You Don’t Just Trade A Juan Soto; Or You Do!:
GM Mike Rizzo wore his 2019 World Series ring to his press conference after trading both Juan Soto and Josh Bell to the San Diego Padres for a big package: five highly-regarded, young prospects, and veteran Luke Voit, and he wore it to make a point, which he shared when he was asked what the message was for fans after the club dealt the 23-year-old Soto with two and a half years of control left, once they decided the outfielder wasn’t going to sign on long-term in D.C.
“The message to the fans, I wore this ring purposely, okay, it shows what we’ve done in the past and what we’re going to do in the future. And, in 2019, we had a slogan, bumpy roads lead to beautiful places. We’re on a bumpy road right now and we believe that coming out of this thing, it will be a beautiful place,” Rizzo told reporters in the nation’s capital.
“It’s very tough,” manager Davey Martinez said in his own press conference on Tuesday, “... and like I said, for the fans, look, I always said this, and I said it all year, as tough as it may be, we all love Juan Soto and we all love Josh Bell, we are headed in the right direction. I thanked [fans] yesterday for being so patient. Be patient. But this organization will be good again. And I’m proud of being part of this organization, proud of being a part of this city, so I’m looking forward to the future.”
The haul the Nationals received in return includes, “... shortstop C.J. Abrams, left-handed pitcher MacKenzie Gore, outfielder Robert Hassell III, outfielder James Wood and right-handed pitcher Jarlin Susana as well as Major League first baseman/designated hitter Luke Voit,” as the club listed them in a press release on the deal yesterday.
Voit’s a known quantity. The prospects in the trade via the Nationals’ press release on the deal:
“Abrams, 21, was San Diego’s No. 1 prospect and the No. 9 prospect in all of baseball entering the 2022 season, according to both Baseball America and MLBPipeline.com,” the Nationals noted.
“Gore, 23, was San Diego’s No. 4 prospect entering the 2022 season, according to both Baseball America and MLBPipeline.com, and the No. 86 prospect in all of baseball according to MLBPipeline.com.”
“Hassell III, 20, is the No. 21 prospect in baseball according to MLBPipeline.com and No. 25 according to Baseball America . He is currently the top prospect in San Diego’s system according to MLBPipeline.com and their No. 2 prospect according to Baseball America.
“Wood, 19, was San Diego’s No. 3 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com and its No. 4 prospect per Baseball America. He is listed by Baseball America as the No. 62 prospect and by MLBPipeline.com as the No. 88 prospect in all of baseball.
Susana, 18, was the consensus No. 1 ranked pitcher in the 2022 international signing class. He was most recently the No. 10 prospect in San Diego’s system according to Baseball America and the No. 14 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com.
“It was a deal that really — it was a deal that we had to get the right deal or we weren’t going to do the deal,” Rizzo explained.
“We set the bar very high, and one team exceeded it, and that’s the deal we made. And props to the San Diego Padres, they’re not afraid, and ownership is not afraid, and A.J. Preller is not afraid, and they were aggressive and we made a deal that you call historical, I call it a good deal both for the San Diego Padres and the Washington Nationals at this time in both our franchise’s history.”
“We had a specific set of players at each organization,” Rizzo continued, “... that we had to get to begin a conversation, and again, it turned out that there was only one organization that was willing to do that, and if they didn’t we probably wouldn’t have done a deal.”
Martinez said he felt the organizational reboot received a serious boost with the new guys in the system now.
“I feel like what we did is going to definitely help us get in the direction that we want to go, and that’s to win another championship. No doubt. I looked at and watched these guys on video, and they’ve all got potential to be really good. I mean, some of them got potential to be future All-Stars,” the fifth-year skipper said.
“So, like I said, on one hand you’re sad to see these guys go, and on the other hand, I’m really super-excited to get to know these guys, start building these relationships and get them going in our organization. I’ve said this before, with some of the guys we’ve got down in our minor league system, adding these guys now, the future is bright, it really is, and I’m really excited about that.”
“I think the prospect capital that we received, I think it accelerates the process,” Rizzo said, echoing Martinez’s sentiments, “... because it not only gives us the players to perform at the field, it opens up other avenues of revenues and payroll and that type of thing.”
August 12-14, 2022:
So ... nine days from now Juan Soto and Josh Bell will be back in the nation’s capital with their new team when the Padres visit Nationals Park for a three-game set. So, yeah, they both return way too soon, and as Davey Martinez said yesterday, it will be on the Nats to find ways to get Soto out now. Just walk him. Martinez laughed, and sarcastically thanked the reporter who mentioned the schedule.
“We got to get him out. We got 10 days now, 10 days to think about that. right now I’m worried about today, and trying to get through today. But yeah, I haven’t even thought about that lineup yet,” Martinez said.
“When the game starts, they wear a different uniform, so we’re going to do everything we can to get them out. That’s the competitive nature of who we are.”
Soto In D.C. - Memories:
Five seasons in D.C., in which he was one of if not the best hitters in baseball. A World Series championship. 119 home runs. 464 walks. All that shuffling and grabbing.
Juan Soto left the Nationals for the Padres yesterday, but he also left behind plenty of memories for fans in the nation’s capital to hold onto when they see him in white, gold, and brown going forward.
How will GM Mike Rizzo remember Soto?
“He was the leader of this organization after Max [Scherzer] and that group left,” Rizzo said.
“It was Juan’s team. And he took that and ran with it. He was really turning into a terrific major leaguer, and it was — he means a lot to me personally, obviously.
“We have great relationship and we’ve known each other for a long time, and his family.”
Did the last few weeks do any damage to their relationship?
“No, I think that we’re stronger than that, our roots go way deeper than that,” he said.
“And we both understood — I’ve said it publicly and so has Juan — this isn’t personal, this is business. Personally he’s one of the greatest teammates that’s ever walked the halls.”
Martinez’s favorite memories of his time with Soto?
“There’s so many. He’s done so many different things for this organization. The biggest one is when we won Game 7, I remember looking out there and him dropping to his knees, that was pretty special.”