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

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

Now that Soto might be enjoying his residence 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 specialists Bradford Doolittle, Alden Gonzalez, Joon Lee, Jesse Rogers and David Schoenfield reply the largest questions.

Is that this the largest 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 essentially 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 once they’re each this good and this younger. That is totally different.

David Schoenfield: Alden is correct; there has by no means been a deadline commerce with a younger celebrity 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 very best 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 exhausting 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 an awesome probability to go down as the largest commerce deadline deal ever. There is a possible 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. As an example he finally ends up as a top-50 all-time participant. I do not assume 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 will have a bunch 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 assume there’s ever been an in-season deal like this.

Joon Lee: Neglect simply the commerce deadline, this is without doubt one of the largest 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 without doubt one of the biggest gamers within the recreation with the truth that he is 23, and he is comparatively unprecedented within the historical past of baseball by way of offensive manufacturing. In the identical means a participant like Shohei Ohtani does not actually have a comp, this commerce does not have a lot of a comp both.

Are the Padres the Nationwide League’s new group 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 bit murky — and the Padres have now vaulted themselves above it. The highest tier now contains six golf equipment, and the Padres are simply pretty much as good as any of the others. It is not about whether or not they can attain the World Collection; it is about whether or not they can win it. Their pitching workers 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 ok 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 prime 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 group. That is fairly good, and on this playoff format, they seem to be a group that can 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 impression 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 Collection final yr, partly as a result of I bought caught up within the hype of their offseason. So I’ve bought some lingering belief points right here, however this San Diego group 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 surprised 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 once 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 positive to land arguably the best commerce chip ever — and now, greater than ever, the Dodgers are in for a combat. Their 12-game cushion within the division might be too huge for the Padres to beat, however the groups will in all probability meet within the playoffs, and the 2 might be very evenly matched. The Dodgers’ pitching workers 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 prime of their lineup — although the Dodgers’ offense might be even scarier.

Rogers: Not a lot proper now, however it would hold Los Angeles pushing exhausting 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 vulnerable to left-handed pitching, however Los Angeles might 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’d assume this sharpens the Dodgers’ concentrate on whether or not they have the right combination behind its bullpen. L.A. nonetheless has a marked expertise edge over everybody else within the NL, however that hole has narrowed significantly over the past two days. Now, when you think about a doable Dodgers-Padres postseason matchup, L.A. has to take a look at that bullpen and ensure they’ve the appropriate man to match up with a Tatis-Soto-Machado (wow!) coronary heart of the order within the late innings. They usually have to verify they’ve the appropriate man to shut it out when Hader is looming on the opposite facet.

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

Gonzalez: The solely 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 may be the best pure hitter since Ted Williams. Tatis — when absolutely wholesome, and it seems he lastly is once more — may be essentially the most electrifying participant within the sport. This doesn’t suggest the Padres have the very best 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 prime, Bell close to the center and Tatis again quickly is a monumental increase. With the pitching workers they’ve, they do not want rather more.

Rogers: I believe there’s good firm within the Yankees’ Aaron Choose, Giancarlo Stanton and Anthony Rizzo. Yeah, possibly Rizzo does not scream “superstar” the best way Soto does, the lone lefties within the two trios, however with the sport on the road, which duo of righties would you reasonably face? I am going to take my possibilities 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 prime two gamers in each 2023 and 2024. Machado is an MVP candidate proper now. This has the potential to be probably the most dynamic, multiseason energy trios we have ever seen. Thrilling? That appears thrilling. However should you’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 is not 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 men who can tear the duvet off the ball, however a trio that may carry younger followers into the game.

Will Soto signal long-term with San Diego?

Gonzalez: That is the place it will get a bit robust. Soto is primed to grow to be the primary $500 million baseball participant in historical past. He may command $40 million-plus a yr. Initially 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 not too long ago signed an extension). Can they pay one other celebrity at ranges even past that — and keep in rivalry? In all probability not. The guess right here is that Soto mashes for them via 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 positive proper now, however I do not see it. On the value 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 an excellent probability a Scott Boras consumer will get to free company. Why ought to this be any totally different contemplating how younger Soto is? Having mentioned that, if San Diego can afford each Tatis and Soto long-term, then no group within the recreation can cry poor.

Doolittle: It is exhausting to get that picture of Soto enjoyable with Boras behind the display at Dodger Stadium in the course of the playoffs out of 1’s thoughts. It is also exhausting to overlook 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. The finest gamers discover their solution to the largest markets. We’re speaking a couple of half-billion {dollars}, proper? I nonetheless see him winding up with the Dodgers. I form 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 can not look ahead to the primary photograph shoot of Soto posing at Lane Area.

Lee: It is exhausting to think about San Diego would provide this a lot of its future with out figuring out what it will take to signal Soto. Soto is prone to be trying to find a half-billion-dollar deal, so I’ve to think about the Padres will do all the things they’ll 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 need to search out the proper mixture of group and wage.