Juan Soto is traded to the San Diego Padres

The San Diego Padres have reached an agreement to acquire superstar outfielder Juan Soto and first baseman Josh Bell from the Washington Nationals, sources told ESPN on Tuesday.

In exchange, the Nationals receive a package from the Padres that includes left-handed pitcher MacKenzie Gore, outfielder Robert Hassell III, shortstop CJ Abrams, outfielder James Wood, right-handed pitcher Jarlin Susana and another Major League player.

Soto, a two-time All-Star who won this year’s Home Run Derby, would enrich the Padres with a historically talented 23-year-old hitter whose teammates early in his career are nearly all Hall of Famers.

The road from Soto rejecting a recent 15-year, $440 million contract offer from the Nationals to reaching a deal with the Padres was swift and linear. The Nationals didn’t want to raise his offer. San Diego, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the St. Louis Cardinals best matched Washington’s desire for young talent.

Interested teams and observers alike viewed the opportunity to trade for a player of Soto’s caliber as a once-in-a-generation event, even though most teams didn’t have the talent to enter the fray for a dead star. to reach free agency until after the 2024 season.

Although control of the club may be attractive to the Padres, the most important thing is what he does best: hit. And that does it as well as anyone in the game. While Soto’s batting average this season of .246 is well below his career average of .291, he leads the major leagues in walks and is among the leaders in home runs (21).

He’s also coming off a big month in July when he hit .315/.495/.616 with six home runs.

In Soto, they’d get a hitter with an eye and uncommon power — the golden combination that could lead a man to turn down $440 million. Since he debuted at age 19, Soto has been a breakout hitter, posting .291/.426/.537 with 119 home runs, 358 RBIs, 464 walks and 414 strikeouts.

He helped lead the Nationals to their first championship in 2019 and, even as Bryce Harper and Max Scherzer and Trea Turner and Anthony Rendon left via free agency or trades, Soto remained, expected to carry the mantle of the organization. .

The Nationals own the worst record in the majors at 35-69 and had lost four of five games through Monday.

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