After acquiring Josh Hader from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for four players on Monday morning, the San Diego Padres have officially acquired star outfielder Juan Soto and first baseman Josh Bell from the Washington Nationals Tuesday, according to MLB insider Jon Morosi.
In return, the Padres will send back a glut of players, which includes top young prospects MacKenzie Gore, CJ Abrams, Robert Hassell III, James Wood, and Jarlin Susana. Hassell, Wood, and Susana are the Padres’ no. 1, 3, and 14th ranked prospects according to MLB.com, while Gore and Abrams recently graduated from prospect status and are widely regarded as budding stars.
Through 342 at-bats in 2022, Soto is hitting .246 with a .894 OPS and 21 home runs. Bell is hitting .301 with a .877 OPS through 375 at-bats in 2022.
Soto, who is under team control through 2024, is widely regarded as one of the best young players in baseball and a generational superstar. Still only 23 years old, Soto already has a handful of accolades to his name, including two All-Star appearances, two Silver Slugger awards, a batting title, and a World Series won with the Nationals in 2019 (he also won the 2022 home run derby at Dodger Stadium last month).
Bell, who is a free agent at the end of the season, is having a career year in 2022 and should provide a force in the middle of the team’s lineup. He is also expected to serve as the team’s primary first baseman. Eric Hosmer was originally in the deal but refused to go to Washington as he exercised his no-trade clause. The Padres will need to do something with Hosmer.
By bringing in Soto, the Padres arguably have one of the best trios in the entire league with similar stars Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado. The acquisition of Soto and Bell immediately gives the Padres much-needed power, a department they have been severely lacking so far this season (the team’s 91 home runs and .376 slugging percentage rank 24th and 25th in the majors, respectively). Soto and Bell have combined for 35 home runs of their own in 2022.
After initially declining to entertain offers from other teams for Soto, the Nationals pivoted their stance after the superstar turned down a 15-year, $440 million extension, which would have made him a National for the remainder of his career. However, some speculated that the decision to decline the offer came in part due to the fact that Nationals ownership could be selling the team in the near future, and Soto did not want to accept any offer without first meeting the new group.
While the Padres received the two best players in the deal (and one of the best players in baseball), the Nationals received a massive prospect haul in return. MacKenzie Gore and CJ Abrams are the main headliners of the deal, with Gore pitching to a 4.50 ERA across 70 innings before recently being shut down for elbow inflammation. Abrams is currently batting .232 with a .605 OPS in 125 major league at-bats this season.
Outfielders Robert Hassell III and James Wood are the main prospect pieces going back in the deal, as neither has yet made it to Double-A. However, both are seen as future major league pieces, with Hassell ranked as the no. 21 and Wood ranked as the no. 88 prospect in baseball, according to MLB.com.
Jarlin Susana is the youngest piece in the deal. Signed out of the Dominican Republic as an international free agent in 2021, Susana has turned heads in the Arizona Complex League this summer, pitching to a 2.45 ERA across 29 1/3 innings and routinely touching triple digits with his fastball.
The Padres currently sit in the second NL Wild Card spot with a two-game cushion over the third-place Phillies. With the move, the Padres have immediately become a postseason threat.
It remains to be seen the impact that the acquisition will have on the Padres’ Competitive Balance Tax (CBT) threshold, a number the Padres have supposedly desired to stay below in 2022 after going above the number in 2021.