Padres trade top prospects for Soto

The San Diego Padres won the Juan Soto Sweepstakes and reportedly agreed to a blockbuster trade with the Washington Nationals on Tuesday. In acquiring one of baseball’s top stars, the Padres gave up a host of promising young players and much-vaunted minor leagues.

In exchange for Soto and first baseman Josh Bell, the Padres sent starting pitcher MacKenzie Gore and shortstop CJ Abrams, along with prospects Robert Hassell III, James Wood and Jarlin Susana. Another player, possibly first baseman Eric Hosmer, could join the Nationals once the deal becomes official.

The Padres are outdoing the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers in giving up assets that contributed in 2022 and were expected to be a big part of their future in 2023 and beyond. While the landing of Soto and Bell could provide a significant boost for the latter part of the season, general manager AJ Preller seems to be taking a big risk by giving up young top players.

Did the Padres give up a lot for Soto and Bell?

The next few years will show whether the swap was worth it. Soto is under contract until the 2024 season. The Padres hope he can be the missing piece that propels the franchise over the top for its first-ever World Series championship.

All five players traveling to Washington have high expectations. Gore and Abrams were San Diego’s top prospects and were listed among the top eight prospects in all of baseball last year before being called up to the big leagues. Hassell and Wood are the Padres’ No. 1 and No. 3 candidates, respectively, according to Susana is just 18 and signed with San Diego earlier this year.

Gore’s rookie season was much better than his 4.50 ERA would suggest. A couple of poor starts have inflated the 23-year-old’s ERA after he bolted with a 1.50 ERA in early June. Gore has pitched at least five innings and given up a run or fewer in eight of his 13 starts.

Abrams was a popular preseason pick for the 2022 NL Rookie of the Year. The shortstop is only 21 years old and has hit .314 in a 30-game stint at Triple-A this season.

San Diego selected Hassell 8th overall in the 2020 MLB Draft. The outfielder is batting .301 in his fledgling minor league career.

Wood stands at 6-foot-7 and 240 pounds. He has 1,054 OPS in 50 Single-A games. Susana throws 98 mph with high upside as a reliever.

Despite Soto being under contract for several seasons, trade is putting increased pressure on San Diego in 2022. Bell will be a free agent after this season. The veteran first baseman could be hired for the Padres considering the team has one of the highest payrolls in MLB and may be preparing to offer Soto a record-breaking contract extension before his current contract expires.

Soto will likely turn down any renewal offers and test free agency, given that the vast majority of Agent Scott Boras’ clients go to the free market. The Padres have shown their willingness to spend big, but it remains to be seen if the property is ready to have three $300 million deals on the books.

Soto reportedly recently turned down Washington’s $440 million, 15-year deal. He will almost certainly land a long-term contract worth over $400 million.

Manny Machado signed a 10-year, $300 million deal with the Padres in 2019. Last year, the Padres signed Fernando Tatis Jr. at 14 for $340 million.

San Diego’s deadline deal hasn’t made them a National League favorite. The Los Angeles Dodgers all but wrapped up the NL West title with a 12-game lead over the Padres. San Diego still has some work to do to secure a wildcard spot. The Padres have a three-game advantage over the St. Louis Cardinals, the first team eliminated from the playoffs at the close of trade.

Soto is one of the best players in MLB, regardless of age. The hard-hitting outfielder was a 2021 NL MVP runner-up and a key contributor to Washington’s 2019 championship team. When Soto helps bring San Diego a title, it’s a bargain.

Will Preller have buyer regrets? If the Padres don’t win a championship and Soto goes free after the 2024 season, the trade could haunt San Diego for years to come.


Photo: Getty Images | Brett Davis Padres trade top prospects for Soto

Fry Electronics Team

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