juan-soto.jpg

Juan Soto is a batting title winner, a Rookie of the Year runner-up, a two-time All-Star and a two-time top-five MVP finisher. He's on a hall-of-fame track five years into his big-league career, achieving feats only known to some of the all-time greats. He's only 23.

And he's on the move. My God, what have they done?

The Nationals are shipping their generational talent to the Padres with 2 1/2 years of control left. Their goal was to re-sign him. They offered him a historic 15-year, $440 million contract. He turned it down. With contention still far off, their best recourse was to trade him, and they still had several windows to do so (offseason, next trade deadline, etc.). Would they get enough this time around? Is there any prospect package that could live up to a player like that?

The answer to that second question is no, but if you're committed to moving said player, the best you can hope for is a team willing to empty the vault. The Padres, it turns out, were. Here's the breakdown of everything the Nationals acquired:  

C.J. Abrams
WAS • SS • 5
A consensus top-25 prospect from the day he was drafted (sixth overall in 2019) and top-10 prospect coming into the year. The Fernando Tatis injury forced him into big-league action before he was ready, and it's showed. But the 21-year-old continued to thrive when sent down to Triple-A, just as he has at every other minor-league stop. He packs a top-of-the scale hit tool and speed.
View Profile
MacKenzie Gore
WAS • SP •
The third overall pick in the 2017 draft and the consensus top pitching prospect as recently as 2020. His stock took a hit last year as he struggled with his mechanics, but he came back strong this spring and was looking like the Rookie of the Year favorite for the first two months before hitting a rough patch. He's currently sidelined by an elbow injury but has no structural damage.
View Profile
Robert Hassell
WAS • CF •
The eighth pick in the 2020 draft and a consensus top-25 prospect now, Hassell is considered a safe bet with a projectable hit tool and potential power/speed profile. The power is the more questionable skill at this juncture, but an improved launch angle would go a long way toward him maximizing it. At age 20, he still has time.
View Profile
James Wood
WAS • RF •
A rapid riser up the ranks, Wood will be a consensus top-100 or perhaps even top-50 prospect by the start of next year. He's another 6-foot-7 behemoth who should be able to leverage that size for considerable power, but unlike others who've come before him -- Oneil Cruz, Elly De La Cruz and even Aaron Judge -- Wood also shows impressive bat control, having struck out just 17.8 percent of the time at Low-A this year.
View Profile

Jarlin Susana, SP: Still in Rookie ball and with a lot of development ahead at age 18, Susana has nonetheless dominated so far. He's already cranking his fastball up to 98 mph, and seeing as he's 6-foot-6, it's easy to envision him hitting triple digits with regularity someday. He also has the makings of a good slider.

The Nationals also got first baseman Luke Voit in the deal. It was originally going to be Eric Hosmer, but he activated his no-trade clause and was shipped to the Red Sox instead. No matter. This is quite possibly the greatest prospect haul of all time, with many All-Star seasons to be had. In dynasty leagues, you're already well acquainted with Gore, Abrams and Hassell, I would imagine, but you'll want to familiarize yourself with the other two.

In redraft leagues, there isn't as much to know. The Nationals have already optioned Abrams to Triple-A, which is for the best since he was clearly rushed. The timetable for Gore's elbow is unknown.

SD San Diego • #22 • Age: 23
2022 Stats
AVG
.246
HR
21
OPS
.894
AB
342
BB
91
K
62

As for what it means for Soto, that part is almost an afterthought in Fantasy Baseball, if you can believe it. Soto is going to do what Soto does. He's going to do it in a better lineup, albeit in a slightly worse venue, but generational talents like him generally aren't confined by venue. You could say stock up slightly, but thanks to a slow start, his numbers were destined to improve regardless. (He just hit .315 with six homers in July while reaching base at a .495 clip). It wouldn't surprise me if he's the No. 1 player in points leagues the rest of the way, and I'd still consider him top five in 5x5 scoring.

SD San Diego • #24 • Age: 30
2022 Stats
AVG
.301
HR
14
OPS
.877
AB
375
BB
49
K
61

Bell possibly stands to gain a little value, too, though not enough to elevate him in the first base rankings, really. He's already top 10. In 14 career games at Petco Park, he has hit .315 with four homers and a .976 OPS, so it seems like his skills also translate to that venue well enough.

This trade of course also leaves some holes in the Nationals lineup, of course. My guess is Lane Thomas and Yadiel Hernandez stop platooning and both go back to playing every day, though neither would be more than a fringe contributor even in five-outfielder leagues.