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Colin Cowherd’s theory on how the San Diego Padres can afford Juan Soto is galaxy-brain stuff

August 03, 2022

On Tuesday, the San Diego Padres pulled off arguably the biggest baseball trade since Babe Ruth, landing Juan Soto in a deal that sent shockwaves across Major League Baseball. In doing so they shipped five prospects and Luke Voit to the Washington Nationals, and took on Soto’s remaining control years, which run through 2024. This year Soto and the Nationals avoided arbitration, with Soto signing a one-year, $17.1-million-dollar deal. Assuming he continues to perform at his historic pace, that number should continue to rise in arbitration years three (2023) and four (2024) until Soto becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2025. That’s a long way off, but should the Padres decide to resign Soto at that time, estimates suggest they may need to shell out over half a billion dollars to do so. That’s a lot of scratch for any team, let alone one that ranks 27th out of 30 franchises in terms of market size.

So the multi-million-dollar baseball question du jour thus becomes: How are the Padres going to afford all of this? Well, noted financial expert Colin Cowherd believes he has a theory.

OK, so let’s get this straight: The San Diego Padres can afford Juan Soto (and Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr.) because California had a budget surplus following the pandemic, due in large part to remote tech companies—such as Zoom and Docu-Sign—calling the state home. Let’s pause for a moment and let that really marinate …

It’s tough to know where to begin with this. First of all, the companies Cowherd cites didn’t move to California during the pandemic. They were already there. Apart from a theoretical hiring spree brought about by demand for remote products, and the resultant increase in California workers paying California state income tax, there’s really very little to suggest that these companies’ pandemic applicability directly contributed to the state’s budget surplus.

But let’s roll with Cowherd here. Let’s assume that they did. Now the California government has $100 million burning a hole in their pocket. What do they do with it? Renovate public schools? Invest in housing for the homeless? Beef up wildfire prevention and combat a serious ongoing water crisis? No. According to Cowherd, they somehow (this is where it all gets very blurry) kick money back to their fourth biggest baseball team to invest in a two-year Juan Soto rental. We’ve seen state governments fund new stadiums with taxpayer dollars, but we’ve never heard of them subsidizing trade-deadline acquisitions, even one as good as Juan Soto. That’s either because this is an elaborate cover-up by the Golden State power cabal or because it’s horses*t. We’ll let you decide which is more likely.

There’s no one reason the Padres can afford Juan Soto. They can afford him because he’s still in his arbitration years. They can afford him because while Tatis Jr.’s deal looks huge on paper, his annual salary isn’t (27th in the majors in 2022). They can afford him because MLB’s luxury tax operates like a soft cap and owner Peter Seidler’s private equity firm is thought to be worth somewhere in the range of $3 billion dollars.

So yeah, safe to say this isn’t the smoking gun Cowherd thinks it is. More of a water pistol really. Cowherd has a lot of hours to fill, with no co-host and no callers because his ego permits neither. So we don’t necessarily blame him for stretching, but this time he reached so far he might have pulled a hammy.