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Is the San Diego Padres’ move for Juan Soto and Josh Bell the biggest trade in baseball history?

From the specific collection of players who moved in the opposite direction, to the age of the Padres new star, this one was quite frankly as big a trade as can be.

Is the San Diego Padres’ move for Juan Soto and Josh Bell the biggest trade in baseball history?
Brad MillsUSA TODAY Sports

As the world of baseball still processes the monumental move made by the San Diego Padres, we take a look at where the trade of Soto and Bell ranks in the history pages. Some say it’s the biggest ever, so let’s find out.

Ranking the Juan Soto & Josh Bell trade

Earlier this week, Juan Soto was traded to the San Diego Padres along with Josh Bell from the Washington Nationals. It was a massive deal and was even delayed at one point by Eric Hosmer’s no-trade clause. In the end, however, Hosmer was taken off the table and replaced by Luke Voit, which had the desired effect of pushing the deal over the line. It should be noted, that the Padres also had to part with a number of top future prospects in exchange for the two stars.

Before you say it, we’ll say it for you: ‘Babe Ruth’s move from the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees in 1919 was the biggest ever in MLB history.’ Now here’s the thing, while Ruth’s infamous departure led to the even more infamous ‘Curse of the Bambino’ which saw the Red Sox go without a World Series win until 2004, what puts it just behind the Soto move for us, is combination of things. For starters, the Red Sox didn’t get a whole host of talent in exchange. Just that in itself takes it down a notch. On the other hand, we will concede that the Babe Ruth trade is most definitely the stuff of legends. Having said that, let’s take a look at what makes the Padres move for Soto so special.

Juan Soto’s age isn’t just a number

The trading of stars in baseball is by no means a new phenomenon. Indeed, teams regularly shift some of their brightest and best and even more so when free agency rolls around, as quite often they can’t afford to keep them on the roster. What is not typical, however, is the trading of young stars who still have several years of control remaining. Yet, that’s exactly what the Nationals did. Though some will be quick to point out that Washington’s team is in the middle of rebuilding, such that they were trying to capitalize on Soto’s market value which here and now, is as high as it’s probably ever going to be. Add to that, the fact that Soto refused to sign an extension and the blockbuster move begins to make a little more sense. The point is, at 23 years of age it’s unreal that the Padres were able to pull off the deal and especially when we consider how good he is.

The Padres themselves

The Padres do not have the kind of franchise history that their ‘big brother’ Dodgers do. In fact, when looking back the Padres never won a World Series and have two National League pennants to their name. We mention the Dodgers, because being longtime rivals - similar to the Yankees and Red Sox - they have often got the better of San Diego when it mattered most. To that end, even more credit should be given to the franchise as it’s now clear that not only did they decide they wanted to change their fortunes, but they actually went out and took a massive step towards doing just that. With Soto now on the roster, the Padres have gained what will undoubtedly be a player who forms the previously missed part of a big three with the likes of Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. Rest assured, the Dodgers and MLB as a whole was just put on notice.

The Nationals got themselves a major ROI

Perhaps the one factor that makes this deal the biggest of all time is what the Nationals got out of it. Though the Padres are dominating headlines with a new star in their ranks, one has to acknowledge just how much the Nationals gained. With MacKenzie Gore, CJ Abrams, and Robert Hassell III all part of the package that was offered for Soto, it’s hard not to give the Nationals their due. Each and every one of the aforementioned players were at one point considered to be some of the best prospects in the MLB.  Hassell himself, was listed as the Padres No.1 overall prospect prior to being traded. Then, there’s Gore and Abrams who made their big-league debuts already. Gore has a bright future ahead, while Abrams has already proven himself to be talented infielder and quite a hitter as well. Keep an eye on him.

In the end, with all its moving parts, the deal has to be considered the biggest ever for the players involved, the bucking of trends where young stars are concerned and lastly the aggressiveness with which the Padres are trying to move themselves forward. At this point, the only thing that’s left to do is see how this all pans out once they start to get going.


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