Padres' Shildt headed to Miami to visit with Soto on Dec. 17

New San Diego manager Mike Shildt has texted with outfielder Juan Soto and plans to meet with the Padres superstar later this month.

Shildt said Tuesday at Major League Baseball's winter meetings that he's been trying to get down to Florida to visit Soto, the slugger the Padres acquired from Washington via trade in August 2022. Shildt said he's seen a lot of Padres players since taking the job and had dinner with some while they were in San Diego.

"I'm going to see Juan in Miami," Shildt said. "On the 17th is what we have scheduled. I assume this is public information. Then I'm going to go see Tati (Fernando Tatis Jr.) on the 18th and 19th and bounce over to Aruba and see Bogey (Xander Bogaerts) after that."

Soto is eligible for arbitration again this winter. He earned $23 million last season and is projected to make about $33 million next year before becoming a free agent after the 2024 World Series.

With the 25-year-old left fielder from the Dominican Republic represented by agent Scott Boras, the Padres might wind up trading Soto for financial reasons even if they'd like to keep him. The three-time All-Star just played in all 162 games of a season for the first time and had 35 home runs, 109 RBIs and 132 walks.

Among other potential suitors, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was asked about Soto at the winter meetings on Tuesday and heaped praise on him.

"I mean, he's a transformational bat," Cashman said. "He's one of the best hitters in the game. He's impact, period. But currently, he's an impact for somebody else."

Soto was a key piece of Washington's championship team in 2019 and turned 21 during that World Series. He won the NL batting title in 2020, and led the league in on-base percentage in 2020 and 2021 en route to earning Silver Slugger awards after both seasons. He finished second in NL MVP voting in 2021.

The Padres went 82-80 last season and finished 18 games back of the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.