The days of forecasting, guessing and debating about player movement finally ended at the trading deadline on Tuesday as the deal between the Washington Nationals and San Diego Padres stole the headlines and news cycle.
It was no surprise to anyone that Juan Soto was on his way out of Washington after turning down a massive 15-year, $440 million offer from the Nationals. It wasn’t a question of when Soto was leaving as opposed to where he was going. With the Padres having a cache of young talent to offer the Nats, that was the tipping point to make the deal.
The deal, which has not yet been totally finalized at the time of publication, is as follows:
The San Diego Padres receive:
Outfielder Juan Soto and first baseman Josh Bell
The Washington Nationals receive:
Left-handed pitcher, Mackenzie Gore and outfielder, Robert Hassell III, Shortstop C.J. Abrams and Outfielder, James Wood. One more player to be named later.
Went on SportsCenter to talk about the Juan Soto blockbuster. We will have much, much more on our trade deadline special today from 4 to 6 p.m. on ESPN. pic.twitter.com/WigOpc8fFU
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) August 2, 2022
While Juan Soto is the undisputed headliner that was no surprise, it is a mild surprise that our MLBbro, Josh Bell was added in the deal even though we had monitored possible moves for over a month. MLBro.com had San Diego on the radar as one of Bell’s possible destinations.
“The Padres realize that the Dodgers have no issues opening up the bankbook to get the best players on the market no matter the cost. Josh Bell can add some offensive power to compete with their loaded division rivals.”
“Like the Dodgers, the Padres have a quality first baseman in Eric Hosmer, but they need help in the DH spot”.
Speaking of Eric Hosmer, he is the reason that the deal is not officially complete yet. He rejected the trade with his no trade clause and either has to sign off on the deal or a third team has to be a part of the deal. Most recent reports have him waiving his no-trade clause and going to the Red Sox in a deal.
With Eric Hosmer out of the Juan Soto trade after rejecting a deal to Washington, the Boston Red Sox swooped in and will acquire him from San Diego, sources tell ESPN. The finances are unclear: Padres could pick up a chunk of money — or could send along a prospect with Hosmer.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) August 2, 2022
Josh Bell Is The X-Factor
The undisputed jewel for right now in this deal is our MLBbro, Josh Bell. While Soto has put 21 balls in the seats with 46 RBI, he is hitting .an uncharacteristic 246 for the season, which makes Bell’s short-term contributions all the more impressive this season.
Our MLBbro is hitting a career high .301 with 14 homers and 57 RBI. The former 2019 All-Star has produced 127 dingers with 454 RBI over his career. The Padres may have collected the best hitter in the open market in a virtual steal. A change in mechanics and mindset this year allows him to be a better opposite field hitter while cutting down strikeouts.
"He's back to doing what he does, even better, at a higher clip…"@markdero7 dove into the details of Josh Bell's scorching start for the @Nationals.#MLBCentral pic.twitter.com/aqHitW3Y1Z
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) May 14, 2022
Now while San Diego’s odds of winning a World Series has shot through the roof, the Nationals sit at the bottom of the MLB standings and have officially started a total rebuild, having lost four of their last five games. That doesn’t mean Washington did not accomplish their short-term goal of getting young talent to develop.
Two MLBbro prospects are arriving in Washington by the names of C.J. Abrams and James Wood.
Abrams was San Diego’s top prospect and was ranked sixth in the MiLB rankings in 2021. After spending time in the Double A affiliate San Antonio Missions last year, he was called up this season and has impressed many with his defense and his willingness to use the entire field at the plate.
Our 21-year-old MLBbro has hitting slashes of .231/.280/.322 in 134 plate appearances. This small sample size should not be used as an indictment of his budding potential. The Nationals are very well known for their player development and Abrams should flourish with more opportunities on the field to finish the season.
This analysis is basically the minor league prospect version of the Juan Soto/Juan Bell analysis above. While C.J. Abrams is the coveted acquisition with unbridled potential, James Wood could be the diamond in the rough that could become a star in the future. Even though James is in the Single A ranks, he is tearing up the league with a hitting slash of .337/.453/.601 with 10 homers. This includes a three homer, seven steal stretch in 21 games after returning from a wrist injury.
Wood is a 6-foot-7 tower weighing 240 pounds with power, athleticism and speed that the Nationals front office can sell to its fanbase with comparisons to a famous player in New York named Aaron Judge.
He’s also the son of former University of Richmond basketball standout Kenny Wood.
Projections have the talented Wood ready for the big leagues in 2025, but don’t underestimate the selling point of this MLBbro. With Washington’s record and offensive fire sale trading away their two best contributors, the franchise may have a lot of explaining to do on what their plans are for the future.