Nationals trade Juan Soto to Padres alongside Josh Bell in monumental MLB trade delay deal

After a whirlwind three weeks, Juan Soto is on the move. The Washington Nationals reportedly traded their young superstar to the San Diego Padres alongside star first baseman Josh Bell on Tuesday, hours before MLB’s 6 p.m. trade deadline, Hannah Keyser of Yahoo Sports confirmed. MLB.com’s Jon Morosi reported the case.

With the hit deal, Padres executive AJ Preller adds two of the best hitters available and sets up the potential for a Soto-Manny Machado-Fernando Tatis Jr. combo for at least three playoff series. Returning to the national championships is a wealth of young players and prospects. The package includes young shortstop CJ Abrams and starting pitcher MacKenzie Gore, who has impressed as a rookie this season. Also included are top prospect Robert Hassell III, rising prospect James Wood and several others.

Another major league player is involved. Several reports indicate it will be first baseman Eric Hosmer, who has three years and $39 million left on his contract after this season.

Hosmer, who has a limited no-trade clause, would need to approve the deal. This usually involves finding some sort of compensation for the player to accept. Hosmer and Soto are represented by Scott Boras.

These young players will be part of a comprehensive rebuilding project in Washington, while Soto will head to a team fully planning to use him for a playoff run this year, and potentially for more than a decade. The deal ends a fast-forwarding saga that saw Soto go from franchise untouchable to trading bloc status to “member of the San Diego Padres” in less than a month.

A 23-year-old hitting demigod whose only true ancestor is Ted Williams will now play in the hometown of the Splendid Splinter.

Will Juan Soto sign an extension?

With Soto now in another uniform, the new question is how long he will stay in that uniform.

Soto still had 2 1/2 years of team control, then hits free agency after the 2024 season. MLB history in terms of total money, although the average annual value of $29.3 million is lower than what its elite MLB peers earn.

The Nationals offloaded Soto because they didn’t think they could keep him long term, and now it’s up to Preller and the Padres to deal with the same issue. With Scott Boras as his agent, it seems very possible that Soto will wait until he hits the open market before deciding on his future.

All signs point to Juan Soto being a future Hall of Famer

All speculation about Soto is driven by the fact that few, if any, MLB players have hit the trade market with a resume like Soto’s at an age like Soto’s.

In five MLB seasons, Soto hit .291/.427/.538 with 119 homers, an unheard-of clip for a player his age this millennium. His plate discipline is elite of the elite, and he found his power enough to win this year’s Home Run Derby.

Add to that his hit in the 2019 Washington Playoffs, and you have a guy with hardly any red flags and historic potential.

This season has been a slow year for Soto, but even though he is hitting below .250, his 158 OPS+ — a park-adjusted metric of overall offensive performance — is still among the best in MLB. Players like this show up once in a generation, and nearly all of them end up hearing their name called in Cooperstown (barring extenuating circumstances).

The only question with Soto is how much better he can get.

How the Nationals ended up trading Juan Soto

Rewind to 2019. The Washington Nationals are World Series champions. They may not have Bryce Harper anymore, but they still have a collection of All-Stars like Max Scherzer, Anthony Rendon, Stephen Strasburg, Trea Turner, Patrick Corbin and, of course, Soto.

Soto was 20 that season and already an elite hitter. Any MLB club serious about wrestling would want him on their team, and it would make sense for the Nationals to do whatever they can to sign him long-term. So why are they swapping it?

Well, short answer, the Nationals have been a disaster since winning that trophy. Rendon left in free agency. Strasbourg came back on a new contract but has made eight starts since then and now faces thoracic outlet syndrome, often a death knell for pitchers. Corbin has become arguably the worst starting pitcher in the league. The team was bad enough that they traded Scherzer and Turner at last year’s trade deadline rather than trying to keep them in free agency.

Meanwhile, no homegrown stars have emerged to take over as the Nationals sniffed out just about every first-round pick from 2013-19.

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 26: Washington Nationals right fielder Juan Soto (22) looks on during the MLB game between the Washington Nationals and the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 26, 2022 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, THAT.  (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Even Juan Soto couldn’t fix the Nationals’ problems. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Nationals have gone from 93 wins (and a ring) in 2019 to a 70-win pacing in the shortened 2020 season, 65 wins in 2021 and now a 56-win pacing this season. It will take them years to get back into the playoffs, and Soto wouldn’t have been much help to them if he left after the 2024 season.

So trade speculation was inevitable for Soto this season once the Nationals looked like a dumpster fire again. Things sped up when Soto turned down that $440 million contract, and now he’s headed to a new team, as his old one didn’t want to meet his price tag and profited little from having him in the short term.

Leave a Comment