Juan Soto is a generational talent, but on a Washington Nationals team that was fielding a Quadruple-A roster, he was wasting precious years of his career. Now, that's no longer the case, as the San Diego Padres have traded away the top-level of their farm system to acquire his services at the MLB trade deadline.
That's right. Not the New York Yankees (although the Frankie Montas deal is solid), not the St. Louis Cardinals, no the Astros or Mariners (the Castillo trade is a good one too). It's the San Diego Padres.
And you know what? This is the perfect blockbuster deal for both sides.
It's insane, but it's perfect.
The Washington Nationals Sell High
It's hard to believe that the Washington Nationals won a World Series in the last five years when you look at their current state. Except for Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin, the majority of that World Series team is gone. All-Star Max Scherzer plays for the Mets, All-Star Trea Turner was traded to the Dodgers, Anthony Rendon left for the Angels in free agency, and now All-Star Juan Soto will be playing in the NL West. Every key player of that team was sold off or let go for little to no return. And the Nationals have a history of dealing prospects for guys with little to no upside. Remember the Adam Eaton deal? The one that sent Lucas Giolito to the White Sox? Not great.
Sure, the deal that sent Scherzer and Turner to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2021 did net the Nats a solid return in LA's top prospects Josiah Gray and Kiebert Ruiz, but the Nationals farm system is one of MLB's worst. That's why this Soto deal is so important. I mean, look at this haul:
The package going back to Washington for Juan Soto and Josh Bell, sources tell ESPN:
- LHP MacKenzie Gore
- OF Robert Hassell III
- SS C.J. Abrams
- OF James Wood
- RHP Jarlin Susana
- one more major league player
That's the only holdup right now to the agreed-upon deal.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) August 2, 2022
On the headliners alone, Mackenzie Gore fills the Giolito-sized hole in the Nationals organization. Shortstop C.J. Abrams has already proved he's more than capable of filling the shoes of Fernando Tatis, Jr. who has been out with injuries during the 2022 season. Both outfielders Robert Hassell III and James Wood, the No. 1 and 3 prospects in the Padres farm system, have insane upside and will bring that upside to the Nation's Capitol. Even Jarlin Susana is a big piece for the Nationals, who believe he's a sleeper.
The Nationals have been burned before by not dealing players at the right time. Here, Washington is selling high on Soto and using the deal to restock the farm. Plus, with the insane contracts the Padres have already inked, it's still possible for them to resign Soto when he becomes a free agency, rejoining a team that's on the up-and-up and is ready to make another playoff push.
While this move hurts, it's the correct move for the Washington Nationals.
Meanwhile the Mets and Braves are breathing a sigh of relief before realizing that winning the NL East is the best way to not face the Padres in the opening round of the playoffs.
The Padres Just Keep Getting Better
Not too long ago, there was a time when the San Diego Padres released a team calendar that featured a majority of months highlighting players that no longer played in San Diego. Now, they're an absolute juggernaut.
The 2022 San Diego Padres are an MLB The Show team that my little brother created with "fair trades" turned off. Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, Blake Snell, Jake Cronenworth, Austin Nola, Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove, Trent Grisham, Mike Clevinger, and now, Josh Hader, Josh Bell and Juan Soto. That's insanity. That's wild stuff.
It's clear the San Diego Padres are pushing in all their chips, but what's brilliant about the trade that won the Soto Sweepstakes, is that they've given themselves an expanded window. While Josh Bell may walk in free agency, Juan Soto is not a rental, he's got two years of team control. So not only do they not have push in their chips, they have time to revamp in the offseason and get even better. Yes, the free agent signing of Eric Hosmer is still a big thorn in their side and they tried to pawn him off earlier in the year via a package with the Mets. But besides that, the Padres have all the pieces in place. And not only do they have them in place, but they also have them in place to become dominant for the next two years.
Sure, losing two of your top 3 prospects is rough, and the loss of Gore could turn out to be devastating down the line if he lives up to his superstar potential, but this is the kind of move that dreams are made of for San Diego. This doesn't make them contenders, it makes them of the most dangerous major league teams.
If this deal works out and the Padres secure a ring, the San Diego rebuild will be written about in baseball history books for years to come.
This is the perfect deal for both sides.
At times like this, how could you not be romantic about baseball?
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