Juan Soto trade: Padres agree to deal for superstar ahead of deadline, Nationals get five prospects in return – CBS Sports

Juan Soto trade: Padres agree to deal for superstar ahead of deadline, Nationals get five prospects in return - CBS Sports
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The Washington Nationals are in agreement to trade outfielder Juan Soto to the San Diego Padres, per CBS Sports HQ’s Jim Bowden. Soto, the biggest name on the market ahead of Tuesday’s 6 p.m. ET trade deadline, had been made available in July after he declined a 15-year, $440 million extension offer. The Padres will also acquire Nationals first baseman Josh Bell in the deal, and the Nationals will receive a package headlined by lefty Mackenzie Gore, outfielder Robert Hassell III and shortstop C.J. Abrams. 

San Diego first baseman Eric Hosmer was also originally slated to head to D.C., though he has a no-trade clause and did not agree to be moved to Washington. With Hosmer out of the equation, here’s how the deal looks (though it could change again before becoming official):

Padres acquire

Nationals acquire

  • LHP Mackenzie Gore
  • OF Robert Hassell III
  • SS C.J. Abrams
  • OF James Wood
  • RHP Jarlin Susana

The Cardinals and Dodgers were viewed as the other two finalists for Soto, but were apparently out-bid by San Diego.

Soto, 23, will have two additional years of team control remaining after this season. Since making his big-league debut during the 2018 season, he’s emerged as one of the best hitters in baseball. Entering Tuesday, he’d hit .291/.427/.538 (160 OPS+) with 119 home runs for his career. Soto, a two-time All-Star, was part of the Nationals’ 2019 World Series-winning club.

Why are the Nationals trading Juan Soto?

For as gaudy of a sum as $440 million appears, it’s worth noting that the Nationals’ extension offer would’ve resulted in an average annual value of $29.3 million. According to Cot’s Contracts, that would check in as the 20th-highest mark in the majors, a ranking unbefitting of 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 averaging a cool $35 million per season. 

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

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

The rebuilding Nats are also moving on from Bell, an impending free agent. Bell appeared to be one of the other top hitters available on the market. In 103 games with the Nationals this season, he’d hit .301/.384/.493 (152 OPS+) with 14 home runs and nearly as many walks as strikeouts. Bell represents a clear upgrade over Hosmer for the Padres.

Who is San Diego giving up?

The Nationals’ return is a combination of big-league talent and prospects. Abrams, 21, is a speedy middle infielder who has hit .232/.285/.320 (77 OPS+) with 23 more strikeouts than walks and just seven extra-base hits in 139 big-league plate appearances. His lackluster performance should be viewed with the additional context that he missed most of last season, and has appeared in just 152 professional games overall. To wit, Abrams already has played in more big-league games than he has at either the Double- or Triple-A level. He was ranked as the 10th best prospect by CBS Sports entering the spring based on the belief that he’ll be fine long-term.

Gore, 23, is currently on the injured list with elbow trouble. He’d overcome an apparent case of the yips to post a 4.50 ERA (84 ERA+) and a 1.95 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 70 innings this season, with most of those coming as a starter. Gore used to be considered one of the better pitching prospects in the game, but his aforementioned struggles have diminished his stock. His elbow issue doesn’t help matters, either.

Hassell, 20, was the eighth pick in the 2020 draft. He’s batted .299/.379/.467 in 75 games at the High-A level this season. He’s regarded as having a good hit tool, but scouts have long wanted to see him tap more into his raw power. It’s also unclear if he’ll be able to remain in center field for the long haul.

Wood, 19, was San Diego’s second-round pick in the 2021 draft. He’s listed at 6-foot-7 and he has massive raw power and better speed than you’d expect from someone of this size. He slipped in the draft because of the concerns evaluators had about his swing-and-miss tendencies. Encouragingly, in 50 games this season, he’s punched out in fewer than 20 percent of his trips to the plate.

Susana, 18, is a large right-hander who has spent the season in the complex league. He’s appeared eight times, amassing a 2.45 ERA and a 4.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He has a big fastball and a promising breaking ball.

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