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Nationals trading Juan Soto to Padres

The pre-deadline blockbuster goes a long way toward ensuring that the Marlins won’t be the worst team in the NL East for the near future.

Juan Soto #22 of the Washington Nationals looks on from the dugout prior to the game between the Washington Nationals and the Miami Marlins at loanDepot park on Thursday, June 9, 2022 in Miami, Florida. Photo by Kelly Gavin/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Feast your eyes on the MLB trade of the year. The Nationals sent Juan Soto and Josh Bell to the Padres for five highly regarded young players—LHP MacKenzie Gore, SS CJ Abrams, OF Robert Hassell III, OF James Wood and RHP Jarlin Susana—and veteran slugger Luke Voit.

In recent days, the Cardinals and Dodgers were believed to be the other contending teams in the mix for Soto. Ultimately, San Diego won the bidding with an amazing package. Gore (2017), Abrams (2019) and Hassell (2020) are each former first-round draft picks who have excelled in the minors. Wood, their 2021 second-rounder, has arguably the most upside of the bunch.

The contents of the package are fairly similar in value to those included in the proposal I cooked up involving the Marlins.

Few hitters in the sport’s history have been as accomplished as Soto is through their age-23 season (.291/.427/.538, 155 wRC+, 21.4 fWAR in 565 G). He’s been especially dominant in head-to-head matchups against the Marlins (.310/.443/.567, 164 wRC+ in 77 G).

Recognizing how special Soto is, the Nationals offered him contract extensions on multiple occasions, most recently one that would’ve set a major league record for guaranteed money ($440 million). But he’s content to bet on himself exceeding those earnings as a free agent after the 2024 season. When those negotiations stalled, the Nats decided to sell Soto at his highest possible value.

As disappointing as the Marlins have been in 2022, the Nats entered Tuesday’s trade deadline 12 12 games behind them in the standings, owners of the worst record in the majors (35-69). Soto’s individual brilliance could not come close to offsetting their roster’s many deficiencies.

The Marlins have the 12-1 edge in their season series against the Nats with six more games remaining. Continuing to beat up on them in the coming years will be critical if the Fish hope to become contenders themselves.

Soto and the Padres will be making their only visit to LoanDepot Park this season from August 15-17.