Rob Maaddi, FISM News
Juan Soto is joining Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis in San Diego, following weeks of uncertainty on where the All-Star would land.
The Padres made a blockbuster deal hours before Tuesday’s trade deadline, acquiring Soto and first baseman Josh Bell from the Washington Nationals for a slew of Sand Diego players.
In return, the Nationals received rookie left-hander MacKenzie Gore, first baseman/DH Luke Voit, and prospects James Wood, C.J. Abrams, Robert Hassell III, and Jarlin Susana.
Soto is already one of the best players in Major League Baseball at age 23. The young star also already has a World Series ring on his resume and all the tools to be a future Hall of Famer.
The slugger became available after turning down a 15-year, $440 million contract extension last month. The Nationals could’ve still kept Soto because he has two years remaining after this season before he is eligible for free agency, but San Diego’s offer proved too good to pass up.
The Padres began the day 12 games behind the Dodgers in the National League West. However, they are sitting in the second wild-card spot.
Soto, a left-handed hitting right fielder, is batting a career-low .246 with 21 homers and 49 RBIs for the last-place Nationals. He hit .282 with 34 homers and 110 RBIs in 2019 when he helped the Nationals win the World Series after Bryce Harper left the team.
Soto’s power and plate discipline have been compared to Ted Williams. He hit a home run off former teammate Max Scherzer in a loss to the New York Mets on Monday night in what ended up becoming his last game with the Nationals.
“I feel good where I’m at,” Soto said. “I understand it’s a business and they need to do whatever they need to do. I’m just another player, another employee here like (former teammate Ryan Zimmerman) used to say.”
Soto heard cheers throughout the night as the crowd understood it might be watching him play for the hometown team one last time.
“It means a lot,” Soto said of the fan reaction. “It kind of feels weird, too, because nothing’s happened yet. We’re still waiting. It’s kind of cool at the same time, but it’s kind of weird, too.”
Bell is batting .301 with 14 homers and 57 RBIs. The switch-hitting slugger is in the final year of his contract.
While Soto switched teams, two-way star Shohei Ohtani is staying put.
The Los Angeles Angels have decided they will not trade their star pitcher/hitter despite serious offers from several teams. The New York Yankees, Padres, and Chicago White Sox were among the teams to inquire about Ohtani’s availability.
The AL East-leading Yankees acquired another pitcher, landing Frankie Montas from Oakland for a package of prospects. The 29-year-old right-hander was the top pitcher on the market after the Seattle Mariners acquired All-Star righty Luis Castillo from the Cincinnati Reds last week.
The AL West-leading Houston Astros acquired first baseman Trey Mancini from Baltimore and catcher Christian Vazquez from Boston.
Mancini is hitting .268 with 16 doubles, 10 homers, 41 RBIs, and 39 runs in 92 games this season. Mancini missed the 2020 season after being diagnosed with colon cancer but returned to the majors in 2021.
Vázquez was already in Houston with the Red Sox when the trade was announced so he just had to switch clubhouses to join his new team. Vazquez batted .282 with eight home runs in 84 games with the Red Sox. He’s set to become a free agent after the season.
One of the most surprising moves came when the Milwaukee Brewers traded All-Star closer Josh Hader to the Padres. Hader had been one of the best relievers in baseball for the past few years, but he struggled recently for the NL Central-leading Brewers. Hader’s ERA increased from 1.09 at the beginning of July to 4.24 by the end of the month and he’s set to become a free agent after next season.