Soto, Bell dealt to Padres for host of players (updated)

The Nationals finalized a blockbuster deal this afternoon that is sending Juan Soto and Josh Bell to the Padres for six players – both major and minor leaguers – that once completed represented the most dramatic trade deadline transaction in club history, and arguably in baseball history.

The nearly unprecedented package included Soto and Bell going to San Diego for a group of prospects that included two players who made their major league debuts this season (left-hander Mackenzie Gore and shortstop C.J. Abrams), plus three younger, top-rated prospects (right-hander Jarlin Susana, outfielders Robert Hassell and James Wood), as well as veteran first baseman Luke Voit.

Voit was added to the deal after fellow veteran first baseman Eric Hosmer informed the Padres he would not waive his partial no-trade clause to come to the Nationals. Hosmer wound up getting dealt to the Red Sox instead, with Voit now coming to Washington and expected to take over at first base in the coming days.

The deal came roughly six hours before the 6 p.m. trade deadline, but given the complexities and number of people involved, it needed to be agreed upon earlier in the day. General manager Mike Rizzo had been in talks with several other clubs, including the Cardinals and Dodgers, over the last few days but honed in on the Padres as deadline day arrived.

The Soto-Bell blockbuster, as it turns out, was the only trade the Nationals made today. The deadline came and went with no other moves made, per a club source, leaving Nelson Cruz, Kyle Finnegan, Carl Edwards Jr., Steve Cishek, Cesar Hernandez, Maikel Franco and other potential trade candidates on the roster moving forward.

It’s a major – and sure to be wildly unpopular with fans – deal for the Nationals, who now in the span of one year have traded Max Scherzer and Trea Turner to the Dodgers and Soto to the Padres, completing a complete teardown of a roster that won the World Series less than three years ago.

Rizzo, though, made the case the organization (which currently owns the majors’ worst record and a low-ranked farm system) was in no position to contend again in the near future and needed to parlay Soto and Bell into a system-altering transaction.

"This was a prudent baseball move," Rizzo said, adding: "I call this a good deal for the Padres and the Nationals, at this point in time for both franchises."

Soto, who can’t become a free agent until after the 2024 season but recently turned down a 15-year, $440 million contract extension offer, departs as one of the best players in team history and a World Series hero, having already done all that and been traded by 23.

Bell, who is due to be a free agent this winter, was expected to be dealt all along before tonight’s deadline, though his inclusion in the Soto package came as something of a surprise. Ultimately, the Nationals believe that helped increase the return they got.

"Be patient," manager Davey Martinez said when asked what message he would give to frustrated fans. "This organization will be good again."

Adding even more drama to this trade: The Padres are scheduled to come to D.C. to face the Nationals in 10 days, opening a three-game weekend series Aug. 12.

MLB Network’s Jon Morosi was first to report the trade agreement.

Though none of the players acquired in the trade will be in uniform tonight, Voit should join the major league roster as soon as he arrives from San Diego. The 31-year-old was hitting .225 with 13 homers and 48 RBIs in 82 games with the Padres this season. He's under club control through 2024, just as Soto was.

Abrams is likely to join the big league roster in the next week or two after reporting to Triple-A Rochester to get acquainted with the franchise. The 21-year-old was San Diego's top-rated prospect and the sport's ninth-rated prospect entering the season before debuting when star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. was injured. He hit .232 with two homers and 11 RBIs in 45 big league games and was described by Rizzo as a potential "five-tool" shortstop.

Gore, the Padres' fourth-rated prospect entering the season, also made his major league debut earlier this year and became a regular in their rotation, going 4-4 with a 4.50 ERA with 72 strikeouts in 70 innings. The 23-year-old landed on the injured list last week with left elbow inflammation, and though Rizzo said the Nationals will "go easy with him," club doctors examined his MRIs and gave the green light to acquire him.

Hassell was currently San Diego's top-rated prospect. A 20-year-old center fielder, he participated in this month's All-Star Futures Game and was hitting .299 with 19 doubles, 10 homers and 55 RBIs at high Single-A Fort Wayne.

Wood, who grew up in Rockville before playing in high school for IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., was the Padres' third-ranked prospect at the time of the deal. The 19-year-old center fielder is already 6-foot-7 with power and was hitting .372 with five doubles, three homers, 22 RBIs and 10 stolen bases in his first 26 professional games in rookie ball in Arizona.

Susana, 18, is the youngest and least-known of the prospects, but Rizzo said he has the "highest upside" of the group. The 6-foot-6 Dominican right-hander was recently rated the Padres' 10th-best prospect and had a 2.45 ERA with 44 strikeouts in 29 1/3 innings in rookie ball in Arizona.

While acknowledging how difficult parting with Soto and Bell was, Rizzo also insisted the trade better positions the Nationals to win again sooner than they would have without making the unpopular move.

"I think we've taken several steps forward," the GM said. "I think it accelerates the process."

Game 105 lineups: Nats vs. Mets
Soto, Bell and Nats left waiting to see what happe...
 

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