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Padres' Juan Soto Deal 'Highest-Impact Trade I've Ever Seen,' AL GM Says

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVAugust 3, 2022

Juan Soto (The Washington Post)

MLB executives praised the San Diego Padres and Washington Nationals for Tuesday's blockbuster deal headlined by superstar outfielder Juan Soto.

The Nats sent Soto and first baseman Josh Bell to the Friars in exchange for designated hitter Luke Voit and a hefty package of young players and prospects, including MacKenzie Gore, C.J. Abrams, Robert Hassell III, James Wood and Jarlin Susana.

"I'm still breathless by the Soto trade," an unnamed AL executive told MLB.com's Mark Feinsand. "The Nats insisted they were going to get an unprecedented return or not move him—and they got an unprecedented return. Have to give [Padres general manager] A.J. [Preller] credit for collecting that kind of talent and also for being bold enough to trade it away. They have as much star power as anyone I can remember."

An AL GM added: "Wow. Highest-impact trade I've ever seen. [Nationals general manager Mike] Rizzo did a great job maximizing the return."

Washington found itself in the unenviable position of trying to find the right deal for a 23-year-old slugger near the peak of his powers after Soto declined a 15-year, $440 million extension offer in mid-July, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.

Soto remains under club control through 2024 via arbitration, but the rebuilding Nationals weren't likely to contend within that time frame, so moving him now represented their best chance to maximize the return from a contender.

In the end, they attached the two-time All-Star to Bell, one of the best rental hitters on the trade market, to get back a substantial package of pieces that could help form a future core. It's about the best they could have hoped for given the circumstances.

Abrams arrives as the Nats' No. 1 prospect, while Hassell (No. 3) and Wood (No. 4) also crack the top five, per FanGraphs. Susana checks in at No. 10.

Gore has graduated from prospect status, but the 23-year-old left-hander showcased plenty of promising signs across 16 appearances (13 starts) as a rookie for the Padres this season. He compiled a 4.50 ERA with 72 strikeouts in 70 innings.

It's the second straight year the Nats have pulled off a franchise-altering move. Last July, they dealt shortstop Trea Turner and ace Max Scherzer to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a package led by starter Josiah Gray and catcher Keibert Ruiz.

So, while tearing down a roster with so many top-tier performers can be painful for a fanbase, the Nationals have done what they can to create hope for the future. They're also trending toward an early pick in the 2023 draft with the league's worst record (36-69).

Meanwhile, the Padres made the biggest splash ahead of the deadline by a significant margin to thrust themselves toward the forefront of the World Series conversation.

Their lineup once shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. returns from wrist surgery—he could begin a rehab assignment this weekend—has the potential to challenge the Dodgers and New York Yankees as MLB's best.

Tatis will likely lead off, followed by Soto, Manny Machado, Bell, Jake Cronenworth and Brandon Drury, another deadline acquisition from the Cincinnati Reds.

San Diego also picked up closer Josh Hader, one of the league's most dominant relievers, from the Milwaukee Brewers to fill its ninth-inning role.

While the roster is stacked on paper, not everyone is buying its long-term viability.

"San Diego is in danger of entering Angels territory within the next few years," an NL executive told Feinsand. "A strong top-third of the roster with below-average depth behind it due to a series of system-busting trades."

Of course, if the Padres capture the franchise's first title this fall, those concerns will carry far less weight moving forward.

It's a crowded World Series picture in the NL, however, with the Dodgers, New York Mets and reigning champion Atlanta Braves also firmly in the mix.

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