The Washington Nationals have actually done it. In the trade of the year, they have sent superstar outfielder Juan Soto to the San Diego Padres. They will also receive 1B Josh Bell. LHP MacKenzie Gore, SS CJ Abrams, OF Robert Hassell III, OF James Wood, 1B Luke Voit, and RHP Jarlin Susana are headed to Washington. The trade will finally be completed after Padres 1B Eric Hosmer nixed the trade, before San Diego replaced him with Voit in the deal.
Soto is a top three hitter in baseball, and that is being conservative. He is only 23-years-old, younger than a good amount of prospects being traded around deadline season, and is in his fifth season with an OBP over .400. Only five qualified hitters are at that mark this year, and Soto is number three, at .408. His 91 walks lead the majors by 31, a product of a terrible Nationals lineup that gives Soto no protection whatsoever. For the third consecutive season, his BB% is higher than his K%. Soto is not a free agent until after 2024, so the Padres will have him for three playoff runs, unless they want to flip him down the line to replenish their farm system. He also has playoff experience and a World Series victory already under his belt.
Soto’s youth, contract situation, and standard deviations above the average player makes it impossible for the Padres to lose a trade for him. No matter what happens, they get an A+ grade. The Padres traded away Voit, who was a legitimate part of their lineup. While he has been a decent hitter this year, he doesn’t compare to Bell, let alone Soto. Voit has flaws in his game on defense and strikes out a ton.
All of this doesn’t even mention Bell, who easily could have received Wood and Susana in a trade alone. A switch hitting first baseman who has been extremely durable this season, Bell has incredible offensive numbers. He can be streaky, which is concerning, but he has a .846 OPS since joining the Nationals before 2021. He is an upgrade over first basemen Hosmer and Luke Voit. In fact, Bell and Soto have a very similar bWAR on the season. Adding Bell and Soto to a lineup that already has Manny Machado and will see Fernando Tatis Jr. return is ridiculous.
Soto, 23, has hit 21 home runs with a .246 average, a .408 OBP, and an OPS of .894 in 436 Plate Appearances for Washington this season. In his MLB career, Soto has hit 119 home runs with a .291 average, a .427 OBP, and a .966 OPS in 2439 Plate Appearances.
Bell, 29, has hit 14 home runs with a .301 average, .384 OBP, and a .877 OPS in 437 Plate Appearances for the Nationals this season. In his MLB career for the Nats and Pittsburgh Pirates, Bell has hit 127 home runs with a .266 average, a .353 OBP, and an OPS of .824 in 3196 Plate Appearances.
The Nationals were in a tough spot, which is all you can really say. But to package Soto AND Bell is crazy, especially when you don’t even end up getting enough for just Soto. They weren’t able to shed the salary of either Patrick Corbin or Stephen Strasburg, which is a bit of a missed opportunity. Gore and Abrams are rookies who were previously top-ten prospects in baseball. Hassell is ranked 21st and Wood 88th by MLB Pipeline currently. Susana is ranked as the 14th best prospect in the San Diego system. The Nationals did get back a franchise-altering haul, and multiple players who will immediately play for them. But if one of Gore, Abrams, or Hassell is a bust, they don’t win the trade. Soto is that valuable. It is unfair to the Nationals, since Soto probably wasn’t going to re-sign with them, but the trade is bad. It should also be noted that Gore is the same age as Soto.
Voit, 31, has 13 home runs with a .317 OBP, and a .733 OPS in 344 Plate Appearances for the Padres in 2022. In his MLB career for San Diego, the St. Louis Cardinals, and New York Yankees, Voit has hit 86 home runs with a .348 OBP, and an OPS of .838.
Abrams, 21, has two home runs with a .285 OBP, and a .605 OPS in 139 Plate Appearances for the Padres this season. In his minor league career, Abrams has 12 home runs with 38 stolen bases, a .388 OBP, and a .910 OPS in 499 Plate Appearances.
Gore, 23, has a 4.50 ERA with 72 strikeouts, a 4.12 FIP, and a 1.471 WHIP in 70 innings pitched for the Padres this season. In his minor league career, Gore has a 2.79 ERA with 311 strikeouts and a 1.091 WHIP in 238.1 innings pitched.
Hassell, 20, has hit 10 home runs with 20 stolen bases, a .379 OBP, and a .846 OPS in 346 Plate Appearances for High-A Fort Wayne in 2022. In his minor league career, Hassell has hit 21 home runs with 54 stolen bases, a .388 OBP, and an OPS of .856 in 862 Plate Appearances.
Wood, 19, has hit 10 home runs with 15 stolen bases, a .453 OBP, and a 1.054 OPS in 236 Plate Appearances for Single-A Lake Elsinore this season. In his minor league career, Wood has 13 home runs with 26 stolen bases, a .447 OBP, and a 1.003 OPS in 356 Plate Appearances.
Susana, 18, is in his first professional season in the Arizona Complex League. In 29.1 innings, he has 44 strikeouts with a 2.45 ERA and a 0.886 WHIP.