The Padres hooked their big fish.
The team made it official early Tuesday afternoon, announcing that Washington Nationals slugger Juan Soto will call Petco Park his baseball home.
Soto, who won a World Series with the Nationals in 2019, comes to San Diego, along with Josh Bell, in exchange for veteran Luke Voit and rookies MacKenzie Gore and C.J. Abrams.
The Padres outpaced the other contenders in the race to acquire the talented outfielder largely because they had the prospect stash to do so. Three minor leaguers – Robert Hassell III, drafted by the team two years ago, Jarlin Susana and James Wood – also will go to Washington.
The price was dear as Soto, 23, in his fifth season in the majors, has accumulated numbers comparable to some of the game’s top stars.
His offensive production falls behind only that of superstar Mike Trout, and in one statistic he compares to Hall-of-Famer – and native San Diegan – Ted Williams. He walked 145 times last year, according to MLB.com, the most logged by a major leaguer under the age of 23 since Williams walked 147 times in 1941.
Soto’s career numbers: average – .291; home runs –119; RBIs – 358; doubles –108; walks –464, and runs – 399.
Upon Fernando Tatis Jr.’s return, the trade also puts the two runners up for last year’s National League MVP award – Soto came in second, followed by the Friars star shortstop – in the lineup for the Padres. Soto also won the 2020 NL batting title.
Baseball insiders viewed the trade as inevitable once it was revealed earlier this month that Soto turned down a $440 million, 15-year contract offer from the Nationals. Reportedly, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the St. Louis Cardinals also tried to craft a deal for Soto.
“I feel like with a couple additions we made, it’s a very even playing field now,” said Joe Musgrove – who just signed a five year, $100 million extension with the team – told Bally Sports San Diego of how the Padres now stack up against the Dodgers and other elite teams.
What are those other additions? Ahead of the Tuesday trade deadline, the Padres also:
- Brought in heralded Milwaukee closer Josh Hader, sending Taylor Rogers, Dinelson Lamet, and prospects Robert Gasser and Esteury Ruiz to the Brewers. The deal closed Monday and Hader was in uniform Tuesday.
- Acquired Cincinnati’s Brandon Drury, versatile in the field, in exchange for prospect Victor Acosta.
- Apparently moved veteran Eric Hosmer – various reports placed him as part of the Washington deal, but the team subbed Voit in due to a no-trade clause – to the Boston Red Sox, per ESPN. The team confirmed the other moves, but has yet to announce a Hosmer swap.
Hader spoke to the media prior to Tuesday’s double header at Petco and seemed to be settling in fine.
“This team wants to win and that’s the atmosphere that I always like to be a part of,” he said.