After Soto declined a 15-year, $440 million contract from the Nationals, Washington’s front office began fielding trade offers. Soto, considered one of the greatest hitters in the game, demanded a large haul that few teams could match. Aside from the Padres, the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals reportedly were in the mix.
“We had to get the right deal or we weren’t going to do the deal,” General Manager Mike Rizzo said. “We set the bar very, very high, and one team exceeded it. And that’s the deal we made.”
The bulk of the return for Soto is a combination of highly touted prospects and young, unproven major leaguers. Washington acquired two of the Padres’ top three prospects in Hassell and Wood. Abrams and Gore are young prospects who have made their big league debuts.
Here’s what to know about the players heading to the Nationals.
C.J. Abrams, shortstop
Abrams, 21, was the sixth pick in the 2019 draft and quickly ascended to the majors, making the Padres’ Opening Day roster this year and debuting in the majors April 8. Abrams, a left-handed bat, was ranked the No. 9 prospect in baseball entering the season, according to MLB.com and Baseball America.
Abrams was optioned to El Paso, the Padres’ Class AAA affiliate, in mid-May but was recalled June 20 and has made 19 starts since returning to the majors. He has a .232 batting average, a .285 on-base percentage and a .320 slugging percentage in 46 games.
Rizzo called Abrams “a five-tool type of talent” who can hit at the top of the lineup and play shortstop down the line.
MacKenzie Gore, left-handed pitcher
The southpaw was the third pick in the 2017 draft and, like Abrams, made his major league debut this season. Gore was ranked as high as the No. 3 prospect in baseball in 2020, according to MLB.com.
After making one start in Class AAA this year, Gore was called up and hit the ground running with a 4-1 record and a 1.50 ERA in his first nine games (eight starts) with the Padres. But in his next five starts, Gore allowed 23 runs.
San Diego moved him to the bullpen to help manage his workload, and he made two relief appearances before being pulled from his last outing July 25. The next day, Gore was placed on the 15-day injured list with elbow inflammation in his throwing arm. Rizzo said the injury made the trade more complicated, but the doctors they spoke with gave him the green light to go through with the trade. Still, Rizzo said the Nationals will not rush him back.
Robert Hassell III, outfielder
Hassell was the top prospect in the Padres’ system after being taken with the No. 8 pick in 2020 and is the No. 21 prospect in baseball according to MLB.com. The 20-year old outfielder hasn’t played above high Class A but has thrived at the lower levels with a .301 batting average and 21 home runs in his minor league career.
“Hassell is, again, is a five-tool talent that we believe stays in center field,” Rizzo said. “A guy that could hit with power, play defense, run and steal bases. His ceiling is high.”
James Wood, outfielder
Wood was the No. 3 prospect in the Padres’ system, another young outfielder drafted out of high school. Wood, 19, was taken in the second round of the 2021 draft. According to Rizzo, he is a balanced player who, at 6-foot-7 and 240 pounds, flashes a power bat — he has a 1.054 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in Class A this year. Rizzo also called Wood an above-average runner.
Wood, a Rockville native, played baseball and basketball at St. John’s College High in Washington before heading to IMG Academy in Florida.
Jarlin Susana, right-handed pitcher
Susana, an 18-year-old from the Dominican Republic, signed with the Padres for $1.7 million in January. According to MLB.com, he was the Padres’ No. 14 prospect, but he hasn’t played above rookie ball. In eight games (seven starts) this year, Susana has a 2.45 ERA.
“The youngest and least known of the group is possibly the highest upside of the group,” Rizzo said. “That was the piece that we really wanted and really coveted and really wanted after what we call the Elite Four.”
Susana has a big frame at 6-6 and 235 pounds. He throws four pitches — a fastball, slider, curveball and a change-up. His fastball consistently touches the mid to upper 90s, and it has been clocked at 102 mph.
Luke Voit, first baseman/designated hitter
Voit has played six years in the majors, spending most of his career with the New York Yankees. In the 2020 season shortened by the pandemic, he led the AL with 22 home runs.
Rizzo said before Tuesday’s game that the Nationals had identified three major league vets to add to their roster. When Eric Hosmer refused to waive his no-trade clause, Voit was the next player the team identified.
Chelsea Janes contributed to this report.