Juan Soto is now a member of the San Diego Padres. Who lost this trade, though?
It is a scenario that would’ve seemed unthinkable a year ago, even a month ago. A 23-year-old superstar, already on a career path that will lead to Cooperstown one day, traded in his prime.
The Padres had to surrender a lot to get Soto, as well as Josh Bell, from the Washington Nationals, including former top prospects Mackenzie Gore and C.J. Abrams, current No. 1 prospect Robert Hassell III, and No. 3 prospect James Wood. But the risk is well worth the reward, for the Padres are getting one of the premier talents in the league.
Now in his fifth season, Soto is already in some heady company. Just six players in MLB history have had at least 100 home runs and an OPS of .966 or better through their age 23 season. Mel Ott, Ted Williams, Jimmie Foxx, and Joe DiMaggio are in the Hall of Fame. Albert Pujols will be in five years. The other is Soto.
Soto is an on-base machine. In his last 25 games, he’s reached base in more than half of his plate appearances to go along with a .324 batting average and 1.177 OPS. On Monday, in what proved to be his last game in a Nationals uniform, he hit a home run and walked three times.
Soto will team up in the Padres batting order with Fernando Tatis Jr., another 23-year-old phenom who hasn’t played all season while rehabbing a wrist injury but has started taking batting practice. Together, they’ll form arguably the most dynamic duo in baseball, a pair of talented youngsters with their best days still in front of them. Soto is also under team control for a further two years beyond 2022.
The Padres, 12 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West, are done being second to their Southern California neighbors. In one dramatic move on Tuesday, they’ve elevated themselves to legitimate World Series contenders.
The Padres came out ahead at the trade deadline. But not everyone will be happy to see Soto in a Padres uniform. Here are the three biggest losers from the “deal of the century.”