In what could end up as one of the biggest trades in baseball history, outfielder Juan Soto of the Washington Nationals is headed to the San Diego Padres in a blockbuster deal that was announced by both teams ahead of the 6 p.m. trade deadline on Tuesday.
The deal, which had been held up 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-handed pitcher MacKenzie Gore and the right-handed pitcher Jarlin Susana.
First baseman Luke Voit was added to the deal to replace Hosmer, who was subsequently traded to the Boston Red Sox.
Soto, 23, had been the subject of intense trade speculation for many weeks. It is rare that a slugger that talented and that young is shipped away. The most similar move in recent years was when the Los Angeles Dodgers acquired Mookie Betts from the Boston Red Sox, but even in that case, Betts was 27 — four years older than Soto.
But after the rebuilding Nationals failed to sign Soto to a long-term contract extension — he turned down the latest effort, a 15-year, $440 million deal that would have been the largest contract in baseball history — the team began entertaining offers for him. Soto is slated to reach free agency in 2025, so the Padres will have him under team control for the next three pennant races even without an extension.
The Padres, with a deep farm system, agreed to fork over several of their best young players and prospects in exchange for Soto and Bell, a free agent at the end of this season.
Abrams, who made his major league debut in April, and Gore, who recently landed on the major league injured list with an elbow injury, were each once the Padres’ top overall prospect. Hassell currently holds that title, according to M.L.B.’s prospect rankings, while Wood, a 6-foot-7 center fielder, ranks third. Susana has a 2.45 E.R.A. at in rookie ball.
All of the players the Nationals acquired, other than Voit, are 23 or younger.
Soto’s addition to the Padres vaults them into World Series contention. Trailing the Dodgers by 12 games in the N.L. West race through Monday, San Diego is in a prime spot to nab one of the league’s three wild-card spots. Soto joins a dangerous lineup that includes the All-Star third baseman Manny Machado, shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. (who is expected to return from a wrist injury soon), the All-Star second baseman Jake Cronenworth and Bell, who was hitting .301 before the trade.
Soto, a two-time All-Star outfielder, hit .246 with 21 home runs and an .894 on-base plus slugging percentage in 101 games for the Nationals in 2022. He won the World Series in 2019, a batting title in 2020 and the Home Run Derby last month. Since his rookie season, in 2018, only nine players have accumulated more wins above replacement, according to FanGraphs.