The San Diego Padres reportedly provided a massive boost to their World Series chances with a blockbuster deal to acquire superstar outfielder Juan Soto and first baseman Josh Bell from the Washington Nationals ahead of Tuesday's MLB trade deadline.
ESPN's Jeff Passan provided details of the agreement, which is still being finalized:
Jeff Passan @JeffPassan
The package going back to Washington for Juan Soto and Josh Bell, sources tell ESPN:<br><br>- LHP MacKenzie Gore<br>- OF Robert Hassell III<br>- SS C.J. Abrams<br>- OF James Wood<br>- RHP Jarlin Susana<br>- one more major league player<br><br>That's the only holdup right now to the agreed-upon deal.
Jon Morosi of MLB Network had previously reported the final piece was first baseman Eric Hosmer, but Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reported Hosmer declined to waive his no-trade clause. Hosmer, per Feinsand, was ultimately traded to the Boston Red Sox.
Per Spotrac, San Diego now has a payroll of $237.4 million following the deals.
Here's what the Padres' lineup could look like following the trade:
- Jurickson Profar (LF)
- Juan Soto (RF)
- Manny Machado (3B)
- Jake Cronenworth (2B)
- Josh Bell (1B)
- Wil Myers (DH)
- Ha-Seong Kim (SS)
- Austin Nola (C)
- Trent Grisham (CF)
Bleacher Report @BleacherReport
BREAKING: Juan Soto is going to the Padres, per <a href="https://twitter.com/JeffPassan?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JeffPassan</a> 😳 <a href="https://twitter.com/BRWalkoff?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@BRWalkoff</a><br><br>There's a new big three in San Diego. <a href="https://t.co/q9sGEXq2DR">pic.twitter.com/q9sGEXq2DR</a>
Soto was the one franchise-altering hitter available leading up to the 6 p.m. ET deadline, and Bell was among the best rental players on the trade market. The Padres got them both in one deal.
The club's lineup will become even more dynamic once shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. returns from wrist surgery. He could head out on a rehab assignment as early as this weekend.
"Felt really good," Tatis told reporters after facing live pitching Monday. "I felt nothing, and I felt like I put my best swing out there."
Let's take a look at what San Diego is adding based on 2022 numbers:
- Soto: .246/.408/.485 slash line, 21 HR, 6 SB in 101 games
- Bell: .301/.384/.493 slash line, 14 HR in 103 games
Soto's .894 OPS is actually on pace to mark a career low despite still ranking 10th among all qualified MLB hitters, and there's a strong chance he'll bounce back closer to his .966 mark across five years in Washington with more support behind him in the lineup.
Players of his caliber rarely come available, but the Nats were left with little choice after he declined a 15-year, $440 million extension offer in mid-July, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
Soto is under club control through 2024 via arbitration. But Washington was unlikely to contend during that period, and trading him now maximized the return.
Meanwhile, the Padres' championship window is now firmly open, and they can make three serious runs at a World Series title before the two-time All-Star potentially heads to the free-agent market ahead of the 2025 season.
It's the second straight campaign that Washington made a monster trade right before the deadline. Last year, it sent Max Scherzer and Trea Turner to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a package of prospects led by Josiah Gray and Keibert Ruiz.
So the Nats have jump-started their rebuilding process in a significant way by dismantling the former core, and they're trending toward a high pick in the 2023 draft with the worst record in baseball at 35-69.
While Washington hopes the process is going to yield a contending team a few years down the line, the focus coming out of the deadline will be San Diego, which pushed its chips to the center of the table to create perhaps MLB's most fearsome lineup.
Facing Tatis, Soto and Machado will be quite the first-inning assignment for any starting pitcher come playoff time.
Of course, the Padres must first lock down their postseason berth. They currently hold the second wild-card slot in the National League, three games ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals, the first team out.