MLB: Nationals deal star slugger Soto to Padres at trade deadline

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Aug 03 2022 10:46 AM

Washington Nationals Juan Soto participates in the second round of the Major League Baseball All Star T-Mobile Home Run Derby at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California, USA, 18 July 2022. Caroline Brehman, EPA-EFE.
Washington Nationals Juan Soto participates in the second round of the Major League Baseball All Star T-Mobile Home Run Derby at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California, USA, 18 July 2022. Caroline Brehman, EPA-EFE.

WASHINGTON -- Washington Nationals slugger Juan Soto and first baseman Josh Bell were sent to the San Diego Padres on Tuesday in a blockbuster deal at the Major League Baseball trade deadline.

Teams raced to make final roster moves for the last two months of the campaign, but the biggest was Soto and Bell boosting the Padres' dreams of a first World Series title.

Washington obtained shortstop C.J. Abrams, pitcher MacKenzie Gore, first baseman Luke Voit and three prospects in exchange for Soto and Bell.

"When the Padres reached the tall threshold we had for the trade, we decided to make the trade," said Mike Rizzo, the Nationals president of baseball operations. "It was a well-rounded package. We like the talent level of all the players."

The Nationals have MLB's worst record at 35-69. Nats manager Dave Martinez said it was a "crazy" day of "mixed emotions" at seeing Soto depart while welcoming new talent.

"What he meant to us, for the Nationals family, for the fans, for the city, we should cherish that," Martinez said. "With the players we got, the future is bright and we're looking forward to that."

A no-trade clause in first baseman Eric Hosmer's contract allowed him to reject a move to the Nationals, so the Padres instead shipped him to the Boston Red Sox for cash and two prospects. Voit replaced him in going to the Nationals.

Soto, who helped the Nationals win the 2019 World Series, was MLB's hottest trade prospect after the 23-year-old Dominican outfielder rejected a 15-year contract extension offer worth $440 million last month.

He joins a Padres team, powered by top-hitting infielders Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr., that owns a 58-46 record.

While San Diego trails the Los Angeles Dodgers by 12 games in the National League West division, the club is in a wildcard playoff position.

The Padres lost their only two World Series appearances, in 1984 and 1998, and have reached the playoffs only once since 2006, falling to the Dodgers two years ago in the division series after their only winning season since 2010.

Soto, who is set to become a free agent after the 2024 season, has a career .291 batting average with 119 home runs and 358 runs batted in over five seasons.

The two-time All-Star was the 2020 National League batting champion with a .351 average and won last month's Home Run Derby at the MLB All-Star Game.

At age 21, Soto hit three homers in the 2019 World Series to help spark the Nationals to victory in a seven-game showdown with Houston.

"He was a big part of our success in '19," Martinez said. "Those memories will never go away. We talked about them for a while. He's a great kid."

Bell, 29, is batting .301, a career-high, with 14 homers and 57 RBI for the Nats this season, his second in Washington after five seasons in Pittsburgh. His contract expires after the current campaign.

Hosmer, 32, helped the Kansas City Royals capture the 2015 World Series and owns a career .277 batting average with 196 homers and 875 RBI.

- Dodgers, Yankees deal -

In other major trades, the Dodgers -- with MLB's best record at 69-33 -- obtained outfielder Joey Gallo from the New York Yankees. The two-time All-Star has struggled since leaving Texas for New York at last year's trade deadline.

The Yankees, with the American League's best record at 70-34, landed outfielder Harrison Bader, a New York native, from St. Louis for left-handed pitcher Jordan Montgomery.

The Philadelphia Phillies, clinging to a wildcard NL playoff spot at 55-47, swung deals for pitcher Noah Syndergaard from the Los Angeles Angels as well as outfielder Brandon Marsh and relief pitcher David Robertson.

Japanese pitcher and designated hitter Shohei Ohtani remained with the Los Angeles Angels despite several teams showing interest in the two-way star, who could become a free agent after next season.

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