San Diego Padres outfielder Juan Soto is planning to play with the Tigres del Licey in the Dominican Republic Winter League. The Tigres are tied with the Aguilas Cibaenas for the most league titles with 22.
The league shifted into phase two of its season. This is when the top four teams engage in a round-robin that includes 18 games for each team. After that, the two top teams play in a best-of-nine series for the championship. The champion then plays in the Caribbean Series against teams from Mexico, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Columbia, and Panama.
The Tigres, Cibaenas, Gigantes del Cibao, and Estrellas Orientales are battling it out for the top two seeds. Juan Soto is looking to help his Tigres break the tie for most titles.
The Dominican Republic Winter League fans are excited to see him play there. It’s a fun league to watch where players aren’t afraid to show their emotions. It doesn’t follow the “unwritten rules” that the MLB has.
“Surprised SD would allow that considering the $ they have into him,” one fan explained.
“I got to see it to believe but I really hope so,” another fan tweeted.
It’s always a gamble for a professional athlete to play in another league when they’re in the off-season. Some teams in the MLB will flat-out refuse to let their players play in other leagues to prevent them from risking injuries.
The two-time All-Star outfielder is coming off back-to-back seasons, leading the league in walks. Juan Soto did have his struggles at the plate this year, though. His .242 batting average was the lowest of his career. Maybe going to the Dominican Republic to play will give him some confidence back in his swing.
Juan Soto and the San Diego Padres may be dangerous next season
The San Diego Padres added one of the best shortstops on the free-agent market by signing Xander Bogaerts. He adds to a crowded lineup full of elite talent.
With Bogaerts coming to town, Ha-Seong Kim will likely shift over to second base, and a returning Fernando Tatis Jr. will move to the outfield. They also have Manny Machado, who is coming off one of the most impressive seasons of his career.
They’ll have their hands full in a division that includes the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants. Both teams should fare as tough opponents, but the Padres have the better team on paper.