Calling it the biggest trade in deadline history is a bit overdramatic, but there's no doubt the San Diego Padres sent a shockwave through the baseball world last week, when they acquired Juan Soto (and Josh Bell) from the Washington Nationals for a six-player package that included three recent top eight draft picks. Soto is the kind of player who can swing the balance of power in a postseason race and in a postseason series. He's a dynamic, generational hitter, and he's still only 23.

"We feel like we're better," Padres GM AJ Preller said during the introductory press conference, stating the obvious (video). "Obviously, he's Juan Soto. He speaks for himself. What he's done at 23 years old and the type of talent he is, he's arguably the best hitter in baseball. That should be a big help for our club. Getting Josh Bell also, offensively another switch-hitter who's having a great year that can swing the bat, it should help us a lot."

The Padres won Soto's first game in San Diego and the Petco Park crowd was electric. Then the baseball gods humbled them nice and good with a three-game sweep at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers last weekend. It was quite a punch in the face, a good reminder that the road to the World Series goes through Chavez Ravine, and the Padres still have a dragon to slay. 

Soto was appealing and required such a massive prospect package to acquire not only because he's one of the game's best players, but also because he will remain under team control through 2024. The Padres acquired him for three pennant races. This is a franchise that has not been to the postseason in a 162-game season since 2006. Clearly, they are going all-out to get over that hump, beat the Dodgers, and win the franchise's first World Series.

Like every other franchise, the Padres have a few questions to answer moving forward, even with Soto in tow. The importance of answering those questions in a positive way is now heightened, because success in this game can be fleeting, and the last thing San Diego wants to do is waste the Soto era with a series of bad decisions. Here are four questions facing the franchise as they move forward with the Soto era.

 

1. Where does Tatis play?

This might be San Diego's single biggest question moving forward. Fernando Tatis Jr., who is nearing a return from his broken wrist, played 20 games in right field and seven in center field in addition to 102 games at his usual shortstop last season. He's also played some center field during his minor-league rehab assignment this year. So, is he a shortstop or an outfielder?

"I really don't know yet," Padres manager Bob Melvin told MLB.com last month when asked where Tatis will play when he returns. "It depends on once he gets here where our need is. This guy can play any position on the field. I don't think we're saying, 'this is the particular position for him.' It's just as much about conditioning and getting his arm in shape being in the outfield."  

I don't think there's a wrong answer here. Assuming Tatis mans center field rather than right (pushing Soto back to left), he's going to play a premium up-the-middle position either way. This is just something the Padres have to settle. Pick one position and stick with it, and the position they pick will impact the rest of the roster. Consider the 2023 possibilities: