Juan Soto trade: Padres agree to superstar deal before deadline, Nationals get five prospects back

The Washington Nationals have traded superstar outfielder Juan Soto for the San Diego Padres. the teams announced. Soto, the biggest name in the market ahead of Tuesday’s 6 p.m. trading deadline, was made available in July after turning down a 15-year extension offer worth $440 million. The Padres will also acquire Nationals first baseman Josh Bell in the deal, and the Nationals will receive a six-player package headlined by left-handed Mackenzie Gore, outfielder Robert Hassell III and shortstop CJ Abrams.

San Diego first baseman Eric Hosmer was also originally scheduled to move to DC, though he has a no-trade clause and did not agree to be moved to Washington. Hosmer — who was then traded to the Red Sox — went out of the equation, and the Padres eventually replaced MLB first baseman Luke Voit in his place. Here’s a look at the full trade:

Acquire Padres

acquire subjects

  • LHP Mackenzie Gore
  • FROM Robert Hassell III
  • SS CJ Abrams
  • FROM James Wood
  • RHP Jarlin Susana
  • 1B Luke Voit

The Cardinals and Dodgers were considered the other two finalists for Soto, but were apparently outbid by San Diego.

The 23-year-old Soto will be in control of the team for two more years after this season. Since making his big league debut during the 2018 season, he has emerged as one of the best hitters in baseball. He came in on Tuesday, hitting .291/.427.538 (160 OPS+) with 119 career homeruns. A two-time All-Star, Soto was part of the Nationals’ 2019 World Series-winning club.

Why are the Nationals trading Juan Soto?

For a flashy sum of $440 million, it seems worth noting that the Nationals’ renewal offer would have resulted in an average annual value of $29.3 million. According to Cot’s Contracts, that would be the 20th highest score in the majors, a ranking not befitting a player of his youth and track record. Indeed, Soto’s AAV would not have been the highest on the Nationals’ active roster, with right-handed Stephen Strasburg making an average of $35 million per season.

Soto is the latest star to leave the Nationals, and he joins an impressive roster that includes Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, Trea Turner and Max Scherzer — the latter two of whom were traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers on last year’s deadline.

Soto’s departure comes at a time of significant turnover for the Nationals organization. The franchise is expected to complete a sale to new owners this off-season, marking the end of an era. The Lerner family previously owned the team since 2006, when real estate developer Ted Lerner bought the club from Major League Baseball for $450 million. Ted later transferred ownership to his son Mark in 2018.

The rebuilding Nats also depart from Bell, an impending free agent. Bell turned out to be one of the other toppers on the market. In 103 games with the Nationals this season, he hit .301/.384/.493 (152 OPS+) with 14 homeruns and nearly as many walks as strikeouts. Bell represents a definite upgrade over Hosmer for the Padres.

Who’s giving up San Diego?

The return of the Nationals is a combination of top talent and prospects. Abrams, 21, is a fast middle infielder who has batted .232/.285/.320 (77 OPS+) with 23 strikeouts over walks and only seven extra-base hits in 139 big-league at bats. His lackluster performance has to be seen with the added context he has missed for most of last season, playing just 152 professional games in total. In other words, Abrams has already played in more major league games than at Double or Triple-A level. He was ranked as the 10th best prospect by CBS Sports going into the spring based on the belief that he will be fine in the long run.

Gore, 23, is currently on the injured list with elbow problems. He had overcome a clear case of yips to rack up a 4.50 ERA (84 ERA+) and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 1.95 in 70 innings this season, most of which started as a starter. Gore used to be considered one of the better pitchers in the game, but his aforementioned struggles diminished his stock. His elbow problem doesn’t help either.

Hassell, 20, was the eighth pick in the 2020 draft. He hit .299/.379/.467 in 75 games at High-A level this season. He is considered to have a good hitting tool, but scouts have long wanted him to get more out of his raw power. It is also unclear whether he will be able to remain in midfield for the long term.

Wood, 19, was San Diego’s second-round pick in the 2021 draft. Standing at 6-foot-7, he has tremendous raw power and better speed than you’d expect from someone of this size. He slipped into the design because of concerns reviewers had about his tendencies to swing. Encouragingly, he has hit the plate in less than 20 percent of his trips in 50 games this season.

Susana, 18, is a big right-hander who has spent the season in the complex league. He has appeared eight times, with a 2.45 ERA and a 4.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He has a great fastball and a promising breakball.

What are the prospects of the Padres?

Soto raises San Diego’s short- and medium-term prospects. the fathers — who made another big trade on Monday by buying All-Star closer Josh Hader from the Brewers — are currently in the wildcard position in the National League, and the Soto trade increased their chances of making the playoffs in 2022 by more than 11 percent, according to SportsLine. Dayn Perry of CBS Sports projected a potential line-up with a new look for the Padres, and it’s worth noting that superstar shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. is expected to return soon from a wrist injury that has kept him sidelined all season thus far.

The near-term future isn’t bright for the Nationals, who hope these five prospects can eventually be part of DC’s next contending team. In the short term, Nats fans can look forward to Soto’s return while the Padres have a three-game series in Nationals Park from August 12-14.

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