After issue with no-trade clause, Padres finalize deal for Soto from Nationals

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The San Diego Padres acquired superstar outfielder Juan Soto from the Washington Nationals on Tuesday in one of baseball’s biggest deals at the trade deadline, boosting their postseason chances by adding one of the best young hitters in the sport.

The Padres also got first baseman Josh Bell while sending a string of players to Washington that included rookie left-hander MacKenzie Gore, first baseman/DH Luke Voit and prospects James Wood, CJ Abrams, Robert Hassell III and Jarlin Susana.

Voit was a late addition to the deal after San Diego first baseman Eric Hosmer refused to waive a no-trade provision, according to a person with direct knowledge of the move who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the negotiations were ongoing at the time. .

Soto is a generational talent who turns 24 at the end of October, when the Padres hope to continue playing for a title.

After contributing to the Nationals’ first championship in franchise history in 2019, Soto hit .351 in 2020 to win the NL batting title. He has received more walks than any other player in the Major Leagues in the last two seasons.

“The atmosphere here is that they want to win, and not just go to the playoffs but win a World Series,” said All-Star closer Josh Hader, who was acquired by San Diego on Monday in another big deal with Milwaukee. “That’s a contagious atmosphere to be a part of.”

San Diego began the season with a luxury tax payroll of $229.3 million, just below the first threshold, and the trades push the Padres into tax territory for the second straight season. Soto is owed $5,978,022 for the remainder of this season and Bell is owed $3,516,844.

The prospect package going to Washington is one of the most hyped groups ever involved in a deal. Gore and Abrams debuted in San Diego this season after ranking among the elite minor leaguers in the game, Hassell and Wood are both Top 100 prospects according to MLB.com, and Susana was considered the best pitcher available in the free agent class. international 2021-22.

Washington general manager Mike Rizzo set a high asking price last month after reports surfaced that Soto turned down the team’s last contract offer of $440 million over 15 years.

Soto remains under the team’s control for two more seasons after this one, which made it uncertain whether the Nationals would trade him now. The Padres landed him for potentially three playoff runs, even without a new deal, making this Soto’s ultimate value.

That uncertainty began to weigh on Soto, who said after Sunday’s game against St. Louis: “I just want to get it over with and see what’s going to happen. Start here or wherever you are.”

He may start again in San Diego in the midst of his second All-Star season, part of a loaded lineup that also includes All-Star Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. when the shortstop returns from a broken left wrist.

“It’s pretty impressive to have those three types of guys on one team in the same lineup,” said Wil Myers, the Padres’ longest-tenured player. “Excited to see that trio, hopefully in the next week or two.”

Tatis could be 10 days to two weeks away from being added to the active roster.

With little protection around him in Washington’s lineup, Soto hit .246 with 20 home runs and 45 RBIs and 91 walks in 101 games.

In 2,435 plate appearances since making his Nationals debut in 2018, Soto is batting .291 with 118 home runs and 357 RBIs. He is just a couple of years away from slugging .695 with a 1.185 OPS and .490 on-base percentage, all tops in the NL.

Soto becomes the latest Nationals player to be traded as part of the organization’s long-term rebuild and with ownership looking to sell the team. Rizzo traded shortstop Trea Turner, ace Max Scherzer, power hitter Kyle Schwarber and five others at last year’s deadline, and Washington has allowed Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon and others to continue in free agency.

The quintet of young players from San Diego could join those acquired last year, including pitcher Josiah Gray and catcher Keibert Ruiz, as the core of Washington’s next contender.

Gore, a 23-year-old left-handed pitcher, had a 1.50 ERA in his first nine starts this year but is now on the disabled list with elbow inflammation. Abrams struggled as a backup for the injured Tatis at shortstop early in the season, but he’s only 21 and has hit .314 in Triple-A.

The 20-year-old Hassell, the eighth overall pick in the 2020 amateur draft, hit an RBI single in last month’s All-Star Futures Game. Wood, a 19-year-old outfielder and a second-round draft pick last year, is hitting .321 with 10 home runs and 45 RBIs for Class A Lake Elsinore. Susana, an 18-year-old right-hander, has a 2.45 ERA with 44 strikeouts in 29 1/3 innings with the complex San Diego league team.

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