Soto, a 23-year-old superstar, has been on the trading block for the last two weeks after turning down a 15-year, $440 million contract from the Nationals. Bell, meanwhile, was an obvious trade candidate as a pending free agent.
The return for the Nationals hasn’t been finalized yet, but it’s expected to be an unprecedented number of prospects from the Padres’ minor-league system. Multiple reports have shortstop C.J. Abrams, outfielder Robert Hassell III, right-handed pitcher Jarlin Susana, outfielder James Wood and left-handed pitcher Mackenzie Gore joining the Nationals.
Jon Heyman of the New York Post was first to report the trade.
Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer was reportedly included in the deal, but the veteran rejected the trade to Washington via his no-trade clause, according to MLB insider Mark Feinsand. The inclusion of Hosmer is not believed to be a dealbreaker for the Nationals, according to multiple reports.
Hosmer’s play has significantly declined since signing an eight-year, $144 million deal with the Padres before the 2018 season. Hosmer is hitting .272 with eight home runs and 40 RBIs for San Diego this season. If he had waived his no-trade clause, Jim Bowden of CBS Sports reported the Nationals would have only paid the remainder of his $20 million base salary for this season, with the Padres on the hook for the final $39 million from 2023-2025.
The deal is believed to be one of the largest prospect returns for a player in the sport’s history, even more than the haul that the Marlins received in return for trading Miguel Cabrera to the Tigers in 2007. Still, giving up a player of Soto’s talent — career .966 on-base plus slugging percentage in five seasons — at just 23 years old is nearly unprecedented.
But the chance that any of the five youngsters turn into anything close to a Soto-type player are infinitesimal. It’s even questionable whether the sum of the players — two former top prospects in Abrams and Gore and two current top prospects in Hassell and Wood — will even add up to the value of Soto (21.4 wins above replacement since 2018).
This story will be updated.
• Jacob Calvin Meyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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