When the San Diego Padres traded a significant portion of their top prospects last year for Juan Soto, they believed it would help them contend for years to come. Meanwhile, the Washington Nationals didn't expect to be anywhere near San Diego in the standings for years to come amid their rebuild. In 2023, though, the Padres currently lead the Nationals by just one game in the NL Wild card standings, per Jon Morosi.
The Padres are 26-31 while the Nationals sport a 25-32 record as of this story's publication. Their similar records aren't exactly due to strong play from Washington, but because of the Padres' underperformance in 2023.
Let's take a closer look at the Padres and Nationals in 2023 with Juan Soto now playing in San Diego.
Juan Soto and the Padres
The Padres haven't been able to find any kind of consistency. Juan Soto, however, has been productive for the most part.
The All-Star outfielder is currently slashing .255/.419/.484 with a .903 OPS and 10 home runs. He would like to raise the batting average, but Soto is slugging at a respectable level and getting on base at an elite rate per usual.
San Diego needs to get their entire roster going though. Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr haven't played up to their potential this season. Xander Bogaerts has also dealt with his share of ups and downs.
Pitching-wise, the Padres also haven't impressed for the most part. Joe Musgrove, Yu Darvish, and Blake Snell have all disappointed.
In the end, the Padres are still expected to be a much better team than the Nationals. Right now, though, Washington isn't far behind.
Did the Nationals win the trade?
The Padres acquired Juan Soto and 1B Josh Bell in last year's blockbuster trade. The Nationals landed a plethora of prospects in the deal though.
Washington ultimately acquired LHP MacKenzie Gore, SS CJ Abrams, OF Robert Hassell III, OF James Wood, and RHP Jarlin Susana.
Gore and Abrams highlighted the trade package. Hassell III was also a top-tier prospect in the return. The trade is exciting for the Nationals since their future is now incredibly bright.
Bell left the Padres during the offseason and signed with the Cleveland Guardians. So for that massive trade package, the Padres received just a half-season of Bell and potentially just a couple of years with Juan Soto unless they sign him to an extension.
It's too early to tell who officially won the trade. Given the way both teams are playing at the moment, and factoring in their preseason expectations, the deal is currently swinging in Washington's favor. The Padres can erase that narrative by bouncing back soon though.