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The most important deadline deal ever? Are the Padres the NL’s new staff to beat? What to make of blockbuster Juan Soto commerce


Juan Soto is a San Diego Padre. Within the greatest blockbuster of the 2022 MLB trade deadline, the Washington Nationals dealt the 23-year-old megastar for a treasure trove of high prospects.

Now that Soto might be taking part in his house video games at Petco Park, what does it imply for the Padres and the remainder of baseball this season and past? Has there ever been a midseason commerce fairly this monumental?

ESPN baseball consultants Bradford Doolittle, Alden Gonzalez, Joon Lee, Jesse Rogers and David Schoenfield reply the most important questions.

Is that this the most important commerce deadline deal ever?

Alden Gonzalez: Think about Mike Trout getting traded in the course of the 2015 season. Or Ken Griffey Jr. in 1993. Or Rickey Henderson in 1982. Or Willie Mays in 1954. Or Babe Ruth in … oh, wait, there it’s. Yep, you might need to return to the early a part of the twentieth century — to Babe Ruth actually getting offered to the Yankees in probably the most notorious deal in baseball historical past — to discover a appropriate comp to the Nationals buying and selling a 23-year-old Soto. Level is: Gamers aren’t traded after they’re each this good and this younger. That is completely different.

David Schoenfield: Alden is true; there has by no means been a deadline commerce with a younger famous person like Soto. Certainly, he is the primary participant 23 or youthful to be traded in-season in a yr when he was an All-Star. And he is arguably the most effective hitter within the recreation (granted, he hasn’t been fairly pretty much as good this season, although he is been red-hot the previous month). However to reply the query … it is onerous to beat the surprising commerce of Tom Seaver from the Mets to the Reds in 1977 (again when the deadline was June 15).

Bradford Doolittle: Larger than the Royals buying and selling for Stan Belinda in 2003? Perhaps. However, sure, this has a fantastic probability to go down as the most important commerce deadline deal ever. There’s a potential all-time nice in Soto altering groups and doing so earlier than he is arguably even hit the prime of his profession. By itself, that’s monumental. For instance he finally ends up as a top-50 all-time participant. I do not suppose anybody who’s on that checklist now modified groups midseason earlier than they have been 30, a lot much less earlier than they have been 25. Then you have got a gaggle of gamers going to the Nationals who’ve an opportunity to be actually good for them. And there is additionally Josh Bell! I simply do not suppose there’s ever been an in-season deal like this.

Joon Lee: Overlook simply the commerce deadline, this is among the greatest trades in baseball historical past. That is proper up there with Alex Rodriguez going from the Rangers to the Yankees. Mix the truth that Soto is among the biggest gamers within the recreation with the truth that he is 23, and he is comparatively unprecedented within the historical past of baseball when it comes to offensive manufacturing. In the identical method a participant like Shohei Ohtani would not actually have a comp, this commerce would not have a lot of a comp both.

Are the Padres the Nationwide League’s new staff to beat?

Gonzalez: Previous to this commerce, the highest tier of groups had been clearly outlined. It was the Yankees, Dodgers, Astros, Mets and Braves, in no matter order you needed to put them. The second tier was a little bit murky — and the Padres have now vaulted themselves above it. The best tier now contains six golf equipment, and the Padres are simply pretty much as good as any of the others. It is now not about whether or not they can attain the World Sequence; it is about whether or not they can win it. Their pitching employees was already championship-caliber. When Fernando Tatis Jr. returns, their offense might be too.

Jesse Rogers: Not essentially. However this was clearly a transfer to compete with the Dodgers — not simply this season, however over the subsequent few years. If L.A. wasn’t such a beast, Padres GM A.J. Preller won’t have wanted to be this aggressive in giving up a lot of his farm system. However as they have been constituted, the Padres weren’t adequate to overhaul the Dodgers. Now they’ve a shot. It will not be throughout this common season except there is a full collapse by Los Angeles. However the two groups, separated by simply barely 100 miles, might be battling it out on the high of the NL West for years to return.

Doolittle: Consider it like this: The Padres are on tempo to win 90 video games and have the run differential of an eventual 87-win staff. That is fairly good, and on this playoff format, they seem to be a staff that may make the bracket. Now you add a participant having an All-Star season (Bell), two top-10 general gamers (Soto and Tatis) and a top-five nearer in Josh Hader. You do all of this with out giving up anybody prone to have a big influence in your stretch run. They have not caught the Dodgers, however they’ve put themselves proper there with everybody else within the NL.

Lee: I selected the Padres to win the World Sequence final yr, partly as a result of I obtained caught up within the hype of their offseason. So I’ve obtained some lingering belief points right here, however this San Diego staff appeared the a part of a playoff squad even earlier than the return of Tatis from the injured checklist.

What does this deal imply for his or her NL West-rival Dodgers?

Gonzalez: Proper round this time final yr, the Padres have been shocked to see Max Scherzer slip from their fingers and land with the Dodgers. They have been much more shocked to see Scherzer and Trea Turner lumped collectively in the identical commerce — particularly after they discovered the return to be inferior. Shedding out on Scherzer in some ways triggered the Padres’ precipitous fall, given how they principally ran out of beginning pitchers. This yr, they made certain to land arguably the best commerce chip ever — and now, greater than ever, the Dodgers are in for a battle. Their 12-game cushion within the division might be too massive for the Padres to beat, however the groups will most likely meet within the playoffs, and the 2 might be very evenly matched. The Dodgers’ pitching employees leads the majors in ERA, however the Padres’ group is arguably deeper and higher. The Padres may have Manny Machado, Tatis and now Soto on the high of their lineup — although the Dodgers’ offense might be even scarier.

Rogers: Not a lot proper now, however it can hold Los Angeles pushing onerous so as to add within the offseason to maintain its reign going. If the groups face off within the postseason this yr, Soto might be a difference-maker, so in that regard, the deal positively has the speedy consideration of the Dodgers. Not that Soto is prone to left-handed pitching, however Los Angeles could wish to stack up on lefty-matchup relievers for the subsequent couple of years. If there is a Soto specialist on the market, he belongs in L.A.

Doolittle: I might suppose this sharpens the Dodgers’ deal with whether or not they have the correct mix in the back of its bullpen. L.A. nonetheless has a marked expertise edge over everybody else within the NL, however that hole has narrowed significantly during the last two days. Now, when you think about a attainable Dodgers-Padres postseason matchup, L.A. has to have a look at that bullpen and ensure they’ve the precise man to match up with a Tatis-Soto-Machado (wow!) coronary heart of the order within the late innings. And so they have to verify they’ve the precise man to shut it out when Hader is looming on the opposite aspect.

Is Soto/Tatis/Machado probably the most thrilling trio in baseball?

Gonzalez: The one actual comp — and it is shut — resides in the identical division, with the Dodgers’ trio of Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman and Turner. And that is what makes this so darn enjoyable. Machado would possibly win an MVP this season. Soto could be the best pure hitter since Ted Williams. Tatis — when absolutely wholesome, and it seems he lastly is once more — could be probably the most electrifying participant within the sport. This does not imply the Padres have the most effective offense within the majors, thoughts you. They desperately wanted assist; solely 5 groups have a decrease slugging share at this level. However Soto on the high, Bell close to the center and Tatis again quickly is a monumental enhance. With the pitching employees they’ve, they do not want rather more.

Rogers: I believe there’s good firm within the Yankees’ Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Anthony Rizzo. Yeah, perhaps Rizzo would not scream “famous person” the way in which Soto does, the lone lefties within the two trios, however with the sport on the road, which duo of righties would you somewhat face? I am going to take my probabilities with Tatis/Machado over Choose/Stanton.

Doolittle: It is the finest trio in baseball. Neither Soto nor Tatis has even turned 24. The three-year ZIPS projections at FanGraphs have them as baseball’s high two gamers in each 2023 and 2024. Machado is an MVP candidate proper now. This has the potential to be one of the crucial dynamic, multiseason energy trios we have ever seen. Thrilling? That appears thrilling. However if you happen to’re a Dodgers fan (or particularly a Giants, Rockies or Diamondbacks fan), then not a lot.

Schoenfield: I am going to nonetheless go together with Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez and Edgar Martinez. I imply, granted, that was 25 years in the past, however that was one hell of a trio. (With 40-homer Jay Buhner because the Ringo of the group.)

Lee: Sure. It isn’t simply that they’re three stars of their primes, but additionally three stars with the personalities of Soto, Tatis and Machado. It is simply not only a trio of fellows who can tear the duvet off the ball, however a trio that may convey younger followers into the game.

Will Soto signal long-term with San Diego?

Gonzalez: That is the place it will get a little bit powerful. Soto is primed to grow to be the primary $500 million baseball participant in historical past. He might command $40 million-plus a yr. In the beginning of 2025, Soto’s first free agent yr, the Padres would nonetheless owe Tatis $306 million over 10 years and Machado $120 million over 4 years (to not point out $60 million over three years for beginning pitcher Joe Musgrove, who lately signed an extension). Can they pay one other famous person at ranges even past that — and keep in competition? In all probability not. The guess right here is that Soto mashes for them by two Octobers, after which Preller flips him going into his free agent yr to rebuild the farm system he stripped to land Soto within the first place. That is what Preller’s so good at within the first place.

Rogers: Nobody can know for certain proper now, however I do not see it. On the worth he’ll command, the Yankees and Dodgers should become involved. If the Padres aren’t competing in 2024, then Preller can flip Soto once more — or if they’re competing, revisit an extension at that time. However there’s all the time probability a Scott Boras shopper will get to free company. Why ought to this be any completely different contemplating how younger Soto is? Having mentioned that, if San Diego can afford each Tatis and Soto long-term, then no staff within the recreation can cry poor.

Doolittle: It is onerous to get that picture of Soto enjoyable with Boras behind the display screen at Dodger Stadium through the playoffs out of 1’s thoughts. It is also onerous to neglect Soto acknowledging the followers chanting, “Fut-ure Dod-ger!” throughout All-Star week. That is the historical past of baseball over the last half-century. One of the best gamers discover their solution to the most important markets. We’re speaking a few half-billion {dollars}, proper? I nonetheless see him winding up with the Dodgers. I type of hope I am fallacious although, as a result of that is going to be enjoyable. And I like the concept of this technology’s Ted Williams winding up within the Splinter’s hometown. I am unable to look forward to the primary picture shoot of Soto posing at Lane Field.

Lee: It is onerous to think about San Diego would supply this a lot of its future with out figuring out what it might take to signal Soto. Soto is prone to be looking for a half-billion-dollar deal, so I’ve to think about the Padres will do every little thing they will to lock him up early. If I am Soto although, barring harm, I am ready to hit free company. This commerce ought to function affirmation of his unprecedented worth and may harden his want to seek out the right mixture of staff and wage.

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