Juan Soto's trade to the Padres leaves a star-sized hole in Washington that might never be filled (2023)

WASHINGTON – For his last hit as a Washington National, Juan Soto homered off his former teammate and fellow 2019 champion, Max Scherzer, now pitching for the likely playoff-bound New York Mets. By the time the team played again, Soto had been traded to the San Diego Padres. He also walked three times, stole a base and threw out a runner at the plate in the Monday night game that also featured fans giving him an ovation after his final at-bat (one of the walks, fittingly) before the trade deadline.

The Nats went down quietly in the ninth inning of their 69th loss, with Soto watching from the dugout. When it was done, he signed a baseball and handed it to a young fan. Last September, she caught Soto’s attention with a sign that says “Juan My Pacemaker Beats 4U” and, according to Soto, has continued to come to games regularly.

“I always talk to her,” he said.

Later, he stood in front of what used to be Ryan Zimmerman’s locker, a box of Cocoa Puffs on the floor nearby, and said, “I feel like this has been the worst season I've ever had.”

What’s crazy is, he’s not totally wrong. His OPS is 58% better than league average — but that’s a downturn from last year when he was 77% better than league average, or 2020 when he was more than twice as good as the average major-league hitter. Before that, he won a World Series. Before that, he went from A-ball to big-league star in a single season.

Adversity though, like hitting .247 while leading baseball in walks or playing for a team that loses nearly twice as often as it wins, can force growth, rendering a player who’s famous for his youth wise beyond his years.

“I’ve been learning about myself more,” Soto said of how this season has changed him. “I’ve been learning about the team, the business, and all that kind of stuff.”

(Video) Nationals TRADE Juan Soto to Padres | CBS Sports HQ

On Monday night, he was calm. Veteran countryman Nelson Cruz sat with him in the clubhouse and talked about all the different scenarios. Cruz has played for seven different teams in the course of his 18-year career. He told Soto the first trade is the hardest. When it happened to him, as a minor leaguer, he cried for two days.

But with his future still uncertain, Soto cracked jokes. Chalked up his impressive performance up to proof of the oft-cited baseball cliche: “That shows you I'm controlling what I can control.” He predicted that he would sleep well.

He admitted, though, that relief wouldn’t come on Tuesday. “Tomorrow? No. It’s going to be Wednesday, probably.”

(Video) Jeff Passan is BLOWN AWAY by size of Juan Soto trade haul 😮 | SportsCenter

See, wise. Because Tuesday’s lesson might’ve been the toughest of all.

Soto has been with the Nationals since they signed him out of the Dominican Republic as a teenager in 2015. Recently, he bought a house in the D.C. area. Even if he always planned to walk away in free agency, he could have stayed with the team for another two-plus years. Except that then he rejected the Nationals’ polite-but-perhaps-perfunctory $440 million, 15-year extension.

On deadline day, players and people within the game will tell you baseball is a business. And then they’ll tell you again and again. These are not breakups, they’re business transactions. That’s why GMs, when they’re talking about trading the face of their franchise, will call him “the player” and “the piece.”

But consider that some emotions are inevitable.

Consider Dave Martinez, for whom Soto has played his whole big-league career, describing their relationship: “I talked to his dad a lot, and I said, ‘I know by birth he's your son, but on the field,’” and then he stopped speaking, tapped his chest and blinked a bit, “‘he's my son.’”

That was after.

With hours to go until the deadline, news broke that Juan Soto and Josh Bell, an underrated switch-hitting first baseman with a .301 average and an impressive reel of picks at first, were traded to the Padres. In return the Nationals received long-touted rookie left-handed pitcher MacKenzie Gore; speedy rookie shortstop C.J. Abrams; outfield prospects Robert Hassell III and the 6-foot-7 James Wood; pitching prospect Jarlin Susana, who is the furthest from the big leagues but the Nats believe has the most upside; and veteran Luke Voit, after Eric Hosmer vetoed his inclusion in the deal.

(Video) Why Juan Soto REJECTED The Biggest Contract In MLB History

“We set the bar very, very high,” Rizzo said during a news conference that was at times defensive — “I was the guy who signed him, too,” he said — and emotional as he appeared close to tears. “And then one team exceeded it. And that's the deal we made.”

Soto’s impending departure had dominated the baseball news cycle for weeks, always linked to the ambitious Padres driven by aggressive A.J. Preller, among other suitors. And yet, “it still feels a little bit shocking and disorienting,” injured veteran reliever Sean Doolittle said.

“It sounds surreal. Like, saying it out loud, I guess.”

The muted clubhouse TVs showed footage of Soto interspersed with analysis of how the Padres got their guy. The remaining Nationals, those who have been here a little while at least, tried meekly to put words to the loss. Soto and Bell had both come and gone, bound for San Diego, by the time media was allowed in the clubhouse. The goodbyes had been behind closed doors.

“We talked for a while and he's got mixed emotions,” Martinez said. “So it's tough.”

Left behind was, among other things, a struggling team, a championship banner that never did quite get its victory lap, a couple young players pressed into action with big shoes to fill, and lockers in disarray, to be packed up and shipped off to the players in their new homes.

In front of Soto’s: A box the size of a large kitchen appliance sat full of jerseys and still-muddied red cleats that he doesn’t need where he’s going now. The Cocoa Puffs box still where he left it. A Post-It note picture of a stick figure in a red hat affixed to the front of the wooden stall. And tucked inside, what appeared to be a custom screen-printed T-shirt with a photo of the young fan holding the sign about Soto and her heart, the one he said he would talk to whenever she was at the game.

(Video) Why did Juan Soto turn down THE largest contract in MLB history, $440 million?!

Juan Soto's trade to the Padres leaves a star-sized hole in Washington that might never be filled (2)

Nationals' firesale led to Soto trade

Rizzo said there was no edict to trade, or not to trade, Soto. Ownership — the outgoing Lerner family whose forthcoming sale of the team must’ve factored in, although it’s hard to tell exactly how — entrusted him with evaluating the market and making the best decision for the franchise. He felt that meant selling high, as it were, maximizing the return by giving a contending team three potential postseasons of Soto under team control. Of course another way to look at that is two-plus years of exclusive rights to negotiate with a likely future Hall of Famer just coming into his prime.

Rizzo didn’t quite concede the trade was predicated on an understanding they would be unable to extend Soto. But asked about that he said, “We did feel that we were not going to be able to extend him.”

As an explanation, that presents as many moot questions — such as: why not? — as it answers. But it does work as an explanation. Even though they made Soto several offers since then, the Nationals set this deal in motion last season, if not before, with a deadline fire sale that left him stranded on a team that couldn’t hope to contend in the next couple years. For all that he is, Soto alone cannot win ballgames. This season has shown that much.

(Video) Washington Nationals trade future Hall of Famer Juan Soto analysis and reaction

The evaluators will say their piece about the return and then time will tell better than any projection model ever could. But it’s fair to wonder, right now, what these moves mean in the simplest sense: Are the Nationals better poised to win today than they were yesterday?

“I think we've taken several steps forward,” Rizzo said.

On the one hand, that’s a tautology. If you believe they’ll ever be good again, each passing day brings them only closer. But also, now the teardown is complete. They’ll build something new, something totally disconnected from the 2019 team that has since scattered around baseball. Such is the cycle in sports — sustainability is possible, consistency is not. What looks like continued dominance in certain markets is, upon closer inspection, perpetual evolution. Perhaps this is the start of what will eventually become a long and illustrious span of success in D.C. But wouldn’t it have been nice if Juan Soto was here for that?

FAQs

What was the trade for Juan Soto? ›

The Padres and Nationals agreed to the biggest trade of the summer hours ahead of Tuesday's deadline, with San Diego netting star outfielder Juan Soto and first baseman Josh Bell. In exchange, Washington receives Luke Voit and a handful of young players: shortstop C.J.

Why did Juan Soto leave the Nats? ›

We did feel that we were not going to be able to extend him,” Rizzo said Tuesday, his voice catching at times. “And we felt that, at this time, with two and a half years remaining, three playoff runs available to Juan Soto, he would never be more at value than he is today.”

What is Juan Soto contract with the Padres? ›

San Diego Padres outfielder Juan Soto called his final weeks in Washington "uncomfortable" after the Nationals' $440 million contract extension offer was leaked to the media.

How much was Juan Soto traded for? ›

Juan Soto, who spurned $440m deal, sent to Padres in deadline blockbuster. 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, vaulting their postseason chances by adding one of the game's best young hitters.

Did the Washington Nationals trade Juan Soto? ›

Juan Soto debuts for San Diego Padres; the Washington Nationals actually traded Soto... Juan Soto made his debut with the Padres last night.

Who did the Nationals get for trading Soto? ›

We've acquired top prospects SS C.J. Abrams, LHP MacKenzie Gore, OF Robert Hassell III, OF James Wood and RHP Jarlin Susana as well as Major League 1B/DH Luke Voit from the San Diego Padres in exchange for OF Juan Soto and 1B Josh Bell.

Why did they trade Soto? ›

Beyond an underperforming roster that wasn't likely to get much better in the near term, there are probably many other reasons that went into the decision to trade Soto. Soto rejecting an extension offer was certainly one of them, but he was still under contract to be a National until after the 2024 season.

Is Juan Soto black? ›

Juan Soto placed second in voting for National League Rookie of the Year behind Ronald Acuña Jr., another young Afro-Latino player that I wrote an article on in this series. They both put together historic seasons in many different facets, whether it be by age or for rookies.

What did San Diego give up for Soto? ›

The trade, which had been held up earlier in the day because first baseman Eric Hosmer invoked the limited no-trade clause in his contract, sends Soto and first baseman Josh Bell to the Padres in exchange for an impressive haul of prospects: shortstop CJ Abrams, outfielders Robert Hassell III and James Wood, the left- ...

Who Is Highest Paid MLB Player 2022? ›

These are the players earning the most for the 2022 season:
  1. Max Scherzer, SP, Mets, $43.3 million.
  2. Mike Trout, OF, Angels, $37.1 million. ...
  3. Anthony Rendon, 3B, Angels, $36.5 million. ...
  4. Gerrit Cole, SP, Yankees, $36 million. ...
  5. Carlos Correa, SS, Twins, $35.1 million. ...
18 Jul 2022

How much money did the Padres give Juan Soto? ›

Soto is now the fourth-highest-paid Padre at $17 million, behind Machado, Myers and Darvish ($19 million). Soto, who won't be eligible to hit free agency until 2024, is due $6 million for the remainder of this season.

Who did the Padres trade for Juan Soto? ›

Hours before this year's deadline on Tuesday, Preller struck, reportedly agreeing to trade four prospects, young pitcher MacKenzie Gore, and Luke Voit to the Nationals in exchange for Josh Bell and Juan Soto.

Are the Padres going to get Juan Soto? ›

Juan Soto returns to Nationals Park as opposing player after trade, leads Padres to dominant win. Just 10 days ago, the Washington Nationals traded superstar right fielder Juan Soto to the San Diego Padres in a deal that also sent Josh Bell to the Padres and Luke Voit to the Nationals.

Who has the largest contract in MLB? ›

The $440 million contract would have been the largest in terms of total compensation in Major League Baseball history, topping the 12-year, $426.5 million deal Mike Trout signed with the Los Angeles Angels in 2019.

Can the Padres afford Juan Soto? ›

There's no one reason the Padres can afford Juan Soto. They can afford him because he's still in his arbitration years. They can afford him because while Tatis Jr.'s deal looks huge on paper, his annual salary isn't (27th in the majors in 2022).

Who did the Washington Nationals trade away? ›

Share All sharing options for: Washington Nationals trade Juan Soto and Josh Bell to the San Diego Padres for six player package... It actually happened. On Tuesday morning, with the MLB Trade Deadline just over six hours away, the Washington Nationals reportedly agreed to trade away their talisman, Juan Soto.

What number is Soto? ›

What time is the MLB trade deadline? ›

What time is the MLB trade deadline? This year's deadline is set for 6 p.m. ET.

Who did the San Diego Padres trade for? ›

Acquired OF Juan Soto and 1B Josh Bell from Washington in exchange for 1B/DH Luke Voit, SS C.J. Abrams, OFs Robert Hassell III, James wood, LHP Mackenzie Gora and RHP Jarlin Susana. Acquired INF/OF Brandon Drury from Cincinnati in exchange for INF Victor Acosta. Optioned RHP Michel Baez to El Paso (PCL).

Where does Soto end up? ›

After a whirlwind three weeks, Juan Soto is on the move. The Washington Nationals reportedly traded their young superstar to the San Diego Padres on Tuesday alongside star first baseman Josh Bell, hours ahead of MLB's 6 p.m. trade deadline, Yahoo Sports' Hannah Keyser confirmed.

Who wants to buy the Washington Nationals? ›

As of 2022, Forbes valued the team at about $2 billion. This means that Leonsis will most likely have minority owners in his purchase of the team if he ends up putting in a bid.

How tall is Juan Soto? ›

How many hits does Juan Soto have? ›

2018
YearABH
2022 Regular Season486118
Career Regular Season2098603

Did Juan Soto buy a house? ›

Soto has been with the Nationals since they signed him out of the Dominican Republic as a teenager in 2015. Recently, he bought a house in the D.C. area. Even if he always planned to walk away in free agency, he could have stayed with the team for another two-plus years.

Who is the richest MLB player? ›

Top 10 Richest Baseball Players Ever
  • Randy Johnson – $115 Million. ...
  • Ryan Howard – $120 Million. ...
  • Zack Greinke – $120 Million. ...
  • Miguel Cabrera – $125 Million. ...
  • Albert Pujols – $170 Million. ...
  • Ichiro Suzuki – $180 Million. ...
  • Derek Jeter – $200 Million. ...
  • Alex Rodriguez – $350 Million. Image: Keith Allison/Wikimedia Commons.
19 Jul 2022

What sport makes the most money? ›

With only 30 teams in the league and an unrivaled system in place to make money through television, sponsorships, merchandising, and, of course, ticket sales, the NBA is the king of money-making in the sports world.

What is the lowest paid position in MLB? ›

Shortstop comes last as the lowest-paid position in baseball, with an average income of $2.6 million and a median salary of $1 million, just above the minimum.

Who owns the San Diego Padres? ›

Padres Chairman and owner Peter Seidler, speaking during a Petco Park ceremony on July 7, has pumped unprecedented money and farm system capital into winning a championship.

How much does a Padres player make? ›

Padres Current Contracts
Player (34)Pos.Avg. Salary
Manny Machado3B$30,000,000
Yu DarvishSP$21,000,000
Joe MusgroveSP$20,000,000
Wil MyersRF$13,833,333
30 more rows

How much are the San Diego Padres worth? ›

In 2022, the San Diego Padres had an estimated value of 1.58 billion U.S. dollars.
...
San Diego Padres franchise value from 2002 to 2022 (in million U.S. dollars)
CharacteristicFranchise value in million U.S. dollars
--
12 more rows
21 Apr 2022

Who did the Yankees get in the trade? ›

That didn't stop general manager Brian Cashman and his staff from making five impactful trades before Tuesday's trade deadline. New York went all-in on the trade market, acquiring outfielders Andrew Benintendi and Harrison Bader, starter Frankie Montas and relievers Lou Trivino and Scott Effross.

How much do MLB umpires make? ›

Professional baseball umpires don't make quite as much as the MLB player minimum salary, but they're still well off financially. According to Career Trend, the starting rookie umpire salary is $150,000 and the more experienced umpires and senior umpires (like Joe West) rake in as much as $450,000 per year.

What baseball position gets paid the most? ›

No positions make more money in Major League Baseball than starting pitchers and first basemen. This season, the ten highest-paid starting pitchers have an average salary of $22.2 million, led by Zack Greinke of the Dodgers who will be paid $26.0 million this season (including $2 million of his original signing bonus).

Do MLB players get free tickets? ›

You might assume baseball players get all the free tickets they want, and that life as a Major Leaguer is pretty much puppydogs and daffodils and giant stacks of front-row tickets for all your family and friends. But alas.

How long do the Padres have Juan Soto? ›

Still only 23, Soto will be eligible for arbitration for the next two seasons, before he can become a free-agent in 2025. It remains to be seen if the Padres elect to offer Soto a long-term extension. They currently have third baseman Manny Machado, and shortstop Fernando Tatis, Jr. signed until 2028.

What did the Nationals offer Soto? ›

The Nationals' GM categorized their offers to Soto as “above market value.” While $440 million would have represented the largest total value for any contract signed in MLB history, the $29.3 million average annual value would've ranked only 20th.

Who can afford Juan Soto? ›

There's no one reason the Padres can afford Juan Soto. They can afford him because he's still in his arbitration years. They can afford him because while Tatis Jr.'s deal looks huge on paper, his annual salary isn't (27th in the majors in 2022).

What is Juan Soto contract? ›

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

Who wants to buy the Washington Nationals? ›

As of 2022, Forbes valued the team at about $2 billion. This means that Leonsis will most likely have minority owners in his purchase of the team if he ends up putting in a bid.

Who Is Highest Paid MLB Player 2022? ›

These are the players earning the most for the 2022 season:
  1. Max Scherzer, SP, Mets, $43.3 million.
  2. Mike Trout, OF, Angels, $37.1 million. ...
  3. Anthony Rendon, 3B, Angels, $36.5 million. ...
  4. Gerrit Cole, SP, Yankees, $36 million. ...
  5. Carlos Correa, SS, Twins, $35.1 million. ...
18 Jul 2022

Why did Juan Soto rejected offer? ›

One reason Soto turned down the Nationals' offer was that it was heavily back loaded and the contract's average value of $29.3 million ranked 20th overall. What's more, Soto, who is on track to become a free agent at age 26, could seek out a deal worth more than $500 million if he were to wait, according to his agent.

Who has the biggest contract in the MLB? ›

The $440 million contract would have been the largest in terms of total compensation in Major League Baseball history, topping the 12-year, $426.5 million deal Mike Trout signed with the Los Angeles Angels in 2019.

What team is getting Soto? ›

He's only 23 years old, has a power/plate-discipline combination that draws comparisons to Ted Williams, and he recently turned down a 15-year, $440 million contract extension offer from the Nationals.

Is Ohtani a free agent next year? ›

The Angels are mired in another losing season and Ohtani is eligible to become a free agent after the 2023 campaign.

Will Padres extend Soto? ›

Juan Soto, now of the San Diego Padres, is no longer the story of the 2022 MLB trade deadline. That is because the 2022 MLB trade deadline has passed. Soto, however, remains the story.
...
4. An extension could be the most likely route.
PlayerTotal contract valueContract type
Bryce Harper$330 millionFree agent
4 more rows
3 Aug 2022

How much will the Padres pay Juan Soto? ›

Soto is now the fourth-highest-paid Padre at $17 million, behind Machado, Myers and Darvish ($19 million). Soto, who won't be eligible to hit free agency until 2024, is due $6 million for the remainder of this season.

What is Juan Soto known for? ›

Juan José Soto Pacheco (born October 25, 1998) is a Dominican professional baseball outfielder for the San Diego Padres of Major League Baseball (MLB). He has previously played in MLB for the Washington Nationals.
...
Juan Soto
Batting average.287
Home runs124
Runs batted in373
Teams
12 more rows

How much is Juan Soto making this year? ›

Currently, Soto is making $17.1 million this season. The Padres would pay a pro-rated salary for the remainder of the 2022 campaign. The Friars will have money coming off the books this upcoming offseason.

How much will Nationals sell for? ›

Today the Nats have a market value estimated at $2 billion.

How much are the Washington Nationals worth? ›

The Nationals are worth $2.23 billion, 12th among the league's teams, and the Orioles are valued at $1.63 billion, ranking 18th, according to Sportico. Hedge fund manager Steve Cohen bought the New York Mets in 2020 for $2.4 billion, the highest price ever paid for a MLB franchise.

Is the Washington Nationals baseball team for sale? ›

The sale of the Nationals is being run by New York investment bank Allen & Company, which has extensive experience shepherding sports franchises through ownership changes.

Videos

1. Introducing the new Washington Nationals prospects acquired in the Juan Soto trade
(Sportsnaut)
2. Juan Soto, Josh Bell traded to San Diego Padres fantasy fallout and reactions | Circling the Bases
(NBC Sports)
3. Complete MLB Trade Deadline Breakdown, Juan Soto Trade Analysis | Fantasy Sports Today, 8/2/22
(SportsGrid)
4. MLB All-Star Juan Soto Scores Iced Out Soto Shuffle Chain at Icebox!
(Icebox)
5. 2020 Topps Heritage 1/3 Case Break #1 - 4 Boxes!
(Chomps Live Breaks)
6. Juan Soto and Josh Bell Traded to the Padres
(MLB Network)
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