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Padres Acquire Juan Soto in Blockbuster Trade Deal With Nationals

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The Padres have executed the blockbuster trade of the summer, acquiring Juan Soto in a trade with the Nationals just hours before Tuesday’s deadline, the club announced Tuesday.

The deal ends weeks of speculation about Soto’s future in baseball as the 23-year-old superstar will leave the nation’s capital and make way for San Diego.

Soto won’t be the only National involved in the trade; first baseman Josh Bell will be on the move as well. Washington will receive a haul of prospects in return, including shortstop C.J. Abrams, outfielders Robert Hassell III and James Wood, and pitchers Jarlin Susana and MacKenzie Gore. San Diego is also sending first baseman Luke Voit to Washington.

Whispers about a Soto trade began to ramp up when the two-time All-Star reportedly turned down a 15-year, $440 million contract extension offer from the Nationals in mid-July. As a result, Washington began to field calls for their star outfielder, who has spent his entire career in D.C. since making his debut in 2018.

The initial report from The Athletic about the Nationals and Soto being far apart on an extension caught the 23-year-old by surprise. Soto said it felt “really uncomfortable” to hit the trade market, acknowledging he hoped to stay in Washington, but that the decision was out of his hands.

“It would be pretty tough ’cause I see myself in a good spot here,” he said Sunday, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. “I feel good in the city; I [brought] a championship here. I’m a winning player, and I will do anything to win. I would love to stay here. I would be more than glad, but at the end of the day I don’t make decisions. 

“I’m just here to play, to give my 100% every day on the field and everywhere I go.”

Soto has already built quite the résumé since landing in Washington. He was a member of the Nationals’ 2019 World Series championship team and made the NL All-Star team in ’21 and ’22. He also won this year’s Home Run Derby in late July, just a few weeks before getting traded.

This season, Soto is slashing .246/.408/.485 with 21 home runs and 46 RBIs in 100 games played. He homered off Mets ace and former Nats teammate Max Scherzer Monday night, in what turned out to be his 119th, and last, home run with Washington.

Bell has been one of the other few bright spots for the Nationals this season, playing in all but one game for the team in 2022. He’s racked up hitting splits of .301/.384/.492 with 14 home runs and a team-high 57 RBIs.

Despite the production from their stars, the Nationals have labored along to an MLB-worst 35–69 record and are expected to begin a multiyear rebuild following the trade. The club will be well positioned to do so after landing a quintet of top prospects from San Diego. 

Meanwhile, the Padres will add Soto and Bell and instantly improve their chances in the pennant race. The club already boosted its bullpen in a major way before the deadline, striking a deal with the Brewers to land closer Josh Hader on Monday.

San Diego is currently 58–46, a full 12 games behind the NL West–leading Dodgers, but remains among the front-runners to land one of the league’s three wild-card spots.

More MLB Coverage:

Daily Cover: Everything You Need to Know Before the MLB Trade Deadline