Padres general Manager A.J. Preller was outdueled at the 2021 MLB trade deadline, which preceded the club’s dramatic collapse. After seeing what happens when top-flight talent ends up in the hands of their rivals from the north, Preller is making sure the outcome was different this time around.
Juan Soto is now a San Diego Padre.
Preller orchestrated a blockbuster deal for the All-Star slugger, outdueling the Dodgers and Cardinals who remained in the running for Soto down to the final day. The Padres also acquired an offensive upgrade at first base in Josh Bell.
The deal was set to include Eric Hosmer. However, the veteran first baseman used his no-trade protection to veto his move to Washington. Hosmer will instead be headed to Boston. Hosmer signed with San Diego as a free agent before the 2018 season, and has been a valued presence inside the Padres' clubhouse in four-plus seasons with the franchise.
The Padres will give up infielder and former top prospect and 2019 first-rounder C.J. Abrams; fellow rookie and 2017 No. 3 pick MacKenzie Gore; promising minor league outfielder and 2020 first-round selection Robert Hassell III; rising minor league outfield standout James Wood; and hard-throwing 2022 international signee RHP Jarlin Susana.
Luke Voit will also head to the Nationals in place of Hosmer. Voit hit 13 homers in his first season with the Padres.
A steep price tag was expected in order to land a player of Soto’s ilk. In four-plus seasons the 23-year-old has done enough at the dish to draw comparisons to San Diego native turned Red Sox great Ted Williams. A product of the Dominican Republic, Soto has finished top-five in MVP voting twice, and made two All-Star teams. In 2020 he led MLB in OPS (1.185) and slugging percentage (.695). He has topped baseball in on-base percentage twice, in 2020 and 2021. Known for his prolific plate discipline he topped the bigs in walks with 145 in 2021, and is on pace to do so again this season with 91 thus far. His .351 batting average two seasons ago led the National League.
His 162-game averages to this point in his career look like this: a slash line of .291/.426/.537, with 34 home runs, 103 RBIs, 31 doubles, 163 hits, 132 walks and 119 strikeouts.
In the last game of his Nationals career, Soto homered off of Max Scherzer and walked three times Monday.
Soto helped guide Washington to a World Series in 2019. He is under contract through the 2024 season, however the Nats’ attempts to sign him to a long-term extension fell short. Soto turned down a 15-year offer worth $440 million, causing him to end up on the trade block.
He joins a talented, exciting core that includes Fernando Tatis Jr. – who finished top-four in MVP voting the last two seasons; six-time All-Star and 2022 MVP candidate Manny Machado; and Cy Young candidate Joe Musgrove – who inked a five-year extension on Monday.
The switch-hitting Bell is 29-years-old and was a second-round pick of the Pirates in 2011. He is putting up some of the best offensive numbers of his career, with a .301 average and .877 OPS. Bell has 14 homers to go along with 57 RBIs. He has 114 hits with just 61 strikeouts.
The trade is a power move for the Padres, who fell apart in 2021 after missing out on Scherzer at last year’s deadline, only to see he and Trea Turner wind up in Los Angeles.
The Padres entered Tuesday’s doubleheader in possession of the National League’s second Wild Card spot, two games ahead of the Philadelphia Phillies.