Washington Nationals: Breaking Down The Juan Soto/Josh Bell Return

For the second straight year, the Washington Nationals pulled off a blockbuster trade, this time shipping out Juan Soto and Josh Bell to San Diego for a massive haul. But who exactly did the Nationals receive?

C.J. Abrams

Entering this season, C.J. Abrams was the Padres top prospect and despite still being at AA — he made the team’s Opening Day roster due to an injury to superstar Fernando Tatis Jr. From the jump, it was obvious Abrams was promoted too early — often overmatched he was unable to hit for power or take advantage of mistakes in the zone. In 125 ABs he’s slashing .232/.285/.320, with two homers, 11 RBIs, and an OPS of .605. However, this past month, he started to show signs of life — slashing .294/.324/.412, with a homer, four RBIs, and an OPS of .736.

San Diego sent him down to AAA this year for seasoning where he immediately flourished — slashing .314/.364/.507, with seven homers, 28 RBIs, and an OPS of .871 in 30 games. Abrams’s best attribute is his 80-grade speed — swiping 10 bags in 13 attempts at AAA this year.

Washington has already sent Abrams to AAA where he will continue to develop. Only 21, he needs to add muscle but is immediately one of the Nationals’ best building blocks.

MacKenzie Gore

Drafted third overall by the Padres in 2017, MacKenzie Gore battled a blister and mechanical issues before finally making his MLB debut this season before landing on the IL. In 70 innings, he went 4-4, with a 4.50 ERA, 72 strikeouts, and a 4.12 FIP. Through his first nine starts of the season, he was living up to his hype, going 4-1, with a 1.50 ERA, but over has allowed 27 runs over his last seven starts before landing on the IL. It can be assumed that he was pitching hurt before he was eventually shut down.

Gore’s early season success stemmed from him changing his arm angle. Per The Athletic’s Keith Law:

“After about two years of mechanical trouble that led to a lot of wildness and some decline in the quality of his curveball, Gore streamlined his delivery to try to reduce how far down he’d drop his pitching hand in back, with a shorter arm action now that he can repeat far more easily, resulting in more and better strikes.”

Gore utilizes a four-pitch mix led by the mid-90s fastball that he threw 60.8% of the time this year. Behind that, he evenly relies on his curve (18.1%) and slider (15.6%) to attack hitters. His changeup sits in the mid-80s but he only used it sparingly this season (5.7%). Gore is assumedly out for the season and the focus will be to have him ready for 2023.

Robert Hassell iii

The Padres top prospect, Robert Hassell iii has spent this season at A+ — slashing an impressive
.299/.379/.467, with 10 homers, 55 RBIs, and an OPS of .846. An above-average runner, he’s swiped 20 bags in 23 attempts.

Per MLB Pipeline:

“With a left-handed swing that is geared toward driving the ball to the middle and opposite fields, Hassell projects as a plus hitter. He controls the zone well and shows a solid approach, though there is still room for him to grow as a power threat. The Padres expected his power numbers to increase as he added strength to his 6-foot-2, 195-pound frame, and it’ll be on the Nats to continue that growth.

An above-average runner with good range, Hassell reads the ball well and his jumps and anticipation have given Padres officials confidence he can remain in center. If he does move to a corner, he has plenty of arm strength — he was clocked up to 93 mph off the mound in high school — to profile in right field.”

Hassell’s ETA lines up with the majority of the Nationals’ top prospects, late 2023/early 2024. MLB Pipeline has already updated the Nationals farm system with Hassell the team’s new top prospect.

James Wood

Washington really wanted James Wood and ended up packaging Bell to get it done. Some Padres officials actually viewed Wood as the best prospect in their system. Standing at 6’7, 240 pounds, Wood has impressive raw power which was given an 80-grade by The Athletic’s Keith Law.

In 50 games at A ball this year, he’s slashing an absurd .337/.453/.601, with 10 homers, 45 RBIs, and an OPS of 1.054. A solid athlete, he’s swiped 15 bags in 20 attempts while flashing a solid arm in the outfield.

 Per MLB Pipeline:

“He generates plus raw power from his 6-foot-7, 240-pound frame, though he’s still learning how to fully tap into that power in games. Wood sees the ball and has good bat-to-ball skills but could improve his aggressiveness early in counts, when he’s more likely to get a pitch he’s able to drive.

While his accuracy was a bit inconsistent in ‘21, Wood has a strong arm that could profile well in right field if he outgrows center. Couple that with his potential to hit 30 homers a year and it’s easy to see why the Nats would have targeted him in such a big deal”

More than not, players of Wood’s size end up fizzling out due to their size giving them such a wide strike zone, but he has flashed an impressive eye, drawing 37 walks compared to 42 Ks.

Jarlin Susana

An International free agent, Jarlin Susana signed with the Padres this past year and was sent to the Rookie League. The 18-year-old has made his presence felt, posting a 2.45 ERA, with 44 strikeouts in 29 1/3 innings. He’s only walked 11 batters, while holding opponents to a .155 average.

Per MLB Pipeline:

“Listed at 6-foot-6 and 235 pounds, Susana already has a Major League frame and his arsenal gives scouts plenty to dream on. The right-hander sits in the mid- to upper-90s with his fastball and touches triple digits on occasion. He complements that with a mid- to upper-80s slider, his best secondary offering, and a low-80s curveball. The teenager rounds out his repertoire with a developing changeup with late sink.”

Susana has the potential to be a frontline starter, but is still years away.

Luke Voit

After Eric Hosmer exercised his no-trade clause, veteran Luke Voit became the last part of the trade return. After breaking out with the Yankees, Voit has struggled this season, hitting .225, with 13 homers, 48 RBIs, and an OPS of .733. With two years of arbitration left, Voit is a bounceback candidate who the Nats will look to flip at some point.