San Diego Padres near trade for Juan Soto and Josh Bell

In what could become one of the biggest trades in baseball history, Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto was set to go to the San Diego Padres in a blockbuster deal that was tentatively accepted by both teams before the 6 p.m. trade deadline. tuesday.

The deal, according to people with direct knowledge of it who are not authorized to speak publicly, was pending a few factors, even after Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer, who had protective limited against exchanges, has chosen not to be part of the agreement. . Hosmer was then traded to the Boston Red Sox, according to another person familiar with the details of the trades.

Soto, 23, had been the subject of intense trade speculation for many weeks. It’s rare for such a talented and young puncher to be shipped out. The most similar move in recent years was when the Los Angeles Dodgers acquired Mookie Betts from the Boston Red Sox, but even then Betts was 27 — four years older than Soto.

But after the rebuilding Nationals failed to sign Soto to a long-term contract extension – he turned down the latest effort, a 15-year, $440 million deal that would have been the biggest deal ever. baseball history – the team began to receive offers for him. . Soto is expected to reach free agency in 2025, so a contending team would have him under their control for the next three pennant races, even without overtime.

The Padres, with a deep farm system, agreed to fork out many of their best young players and prospects in exchange for Soto and first baseman Josh Bell, a free agent at the end of this season. In the initial deal, according to people with knowledge of the details, the Padres would send Nationals shortstop CJ Abrams, right-handed pitcher Jarlin Susana, left-handed pitcher MacKenzie Gore, Hosmer and outfielders Robert Hassell III and James Wood. .

How that changes with Hosmer out of the deal is not yet known.

Abrams, who made his major league debut in April, and Gore, who recently landed on the major league disabled list with an elbow injury, were each once the Padres’ top prospect. Hassell currently holds that title, according to MLB prospect rankings, while Wood, a 6-foot-7 center back, ranks third. All are 23 or younger.

Soto’s expected addition to the Padres would put them in contention for the World Series. Trailing the Dodgers by 12 games in the NL West race through Monday, San Diego is in a prime position to nab one of the league’s three wildcard spots. Soto would join a dangerous roster that includes All-Star third baseman Manny Machado, shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. (who is expected to return soon from a wrist injury), All-Star second baseman Jake Cronenworth and Bell, who was hitting .301 before the trade.

Soto, a two-time star outfielder, hit .246 with 21 home runs and an .894 on-base plus slugging percentage in 101 games for the national championships in 2022. He won the World Series in 2019, a batting title in 2020 and the Home Run Derby last month. Since his rookie season, in 2018, only nine players have racked up more wins above substitution, according to FanGraphs.

Hosmer, 32, signed an eight-year, $144 million contract with the Padres ahead of the 2018 season, a sign the rebuilding franchise wanted to start struggling. Compared to his time at Kansas City, where he won the 2015 World Series, Hosmer has vastly underperformed in San Diego, especially in power hitting, and the Padres had tried to trade him before. But he was considered a team leader and was hitting .272 in 90 games with the Padres this season. After this year, he will be owed $39 million over the last three years of his contract.

It has not yet been announced how much money the Padres will send the Red Sox to offset Hosmer’s salary.