Sources: Nats agree to trade Soto, Bell to 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.

Soto was told he was traded to the Padres, a source told ESPN. However, the deal is contingent on San Diego first baseman Eric Hosmer waiving his no-trade clause, sources have told ESPN.

If the deal is done, the price is far from cheap. In return, the Nationals are getting 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 Hosmer, sources told ESPN.

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 early career peers are nearly all Hall of Famers. He will benefit greatly from joining shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. and third baseman Manny Machado near the top of the Padres’ lineup.

The path from Soto’s rejection of a recent 15-year, $440 million contract offer from the Nationals to accepting a deal with the Padres has been quick and linear. The Nationals didn’t want to increase their offer. San Diego, Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals best matched Washington’s desire for young talent.

Interested teams and observers viewed the opportunity to trade for a player of Soto’s caliber as a once-in-a-generation event, although most teams lacked the talent required to enter the fray for a star who is not free. agency until after the 2024 season.

As alluring as club control may be for the Padres, what matters most is what he does best: hitting. And that he does about 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 one of the circuit leaders (21).

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

In Soto, they’d get a hitter with an uncommon eye and power — the golden combination that could get a man turned down for $440 million. Since his debut at age 19, Soto has been a telling hitter, batting .291/.426/.537 with 119 homers, 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 wear the mantle of the organization.

Bell hit a career-high .301 with 14 home runs and 57 RBIs in his second season with the Nationals. He spent his first five seasons in MLB with the Pittsburgh Pirates, earning an All-Star nod in 2019, and has a career batting average of .266 with 127 home runs and 454 RBIs.

Bell, 29, is under contract this season.

News of the deal hit Caesars Sportsbook immediately, with San Diego’s odds of winning the World Series jumping from +2000 to +800. Additionally, the odds of the Padres winning the National League pennant have been increased from +800 to +400.

The Nationals hold the majors’ worst record at 35-69 and have lost four of five games through Monday.

Hosmer, 32, is hitting .272 with 8 home runs and 40 RBIs this season. He agreed to an eight-year, $144 million contract with San Diego ahead of the 2018 season, and he owes him about $7 million for the remainder of that season and $13 million a year from 2023 to 2025.

The first baseman spent his first seven seasons with the Kansas City Royals and has a career average of .277 with 196 home runs and 875 RBIs.

Gore, who is currently on the 15-day injured list with elbow pain, was recently added to the Padres’ bullpen. The 23-year-old southpaw made his debut this season after ranking among the game’s top pitching prospects since being selected in the first round of the 2017 draft.

He’s been outstanding early in the season, going 4-1 with a 1.50 ERA in his first nine games, including eight starts. But he made two consecutive appearances out of the bullpen after San Diego went from a six-man rotation to a five-man team.

He left having thrown 35 pitches in an outing against the Tigers on July 25, and his fastball speed in that game (92.7 mph) was down more than 2 mph from his average for the season.

Gore’s 70 innings pitched this season are already 19⅔ more than he pitched in 2021, and he was on course to far surpass his minors career high of 101 innings.

Abrams, 21, who was the sixth overall pick in the 2019 draft, is hitting .232 with two homers and 11 RBIs in the majors this season and .314 with seven homers and 28 RBIs at Triple-A El Paso.

Hassell, 20, who was the eighth overall pick in the 2020 draft, is hitting .299 with 10 home runs and 55 RBIs at Class A Fort Wayne.

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