Juan Soto trade: Padres projected lineup, deal boosts playoff hopes, Fernando Tates Jr. returns.

The San Diego Padres grabbed the baseball world by the lapels on Tuesday, when they made a blockbuster trade with the Washington Nationals for superstar young slugger Juan Soto and power-hitting first baseman Josh Bell. of While the trade deadline has yet to be finalized, due in large part to Eric Hosmer’s no-trade clause, it’s not too early to wonder what kind of lineup the Padres could put together now.

But wait, there’s more: franchise shortstop Fernando Tates Jr. The minor league rehab is set to begin soon. Tatis has missed the entire 2022 season to date after suffering an offseason wrist fracture, but once he returns, he should resume being one of the game’s most powerful and productive offensive players. Should. So while we’re busy dreaming up the Padres’ new lineup, we’ll also be accounting for Tatis’ eventual presence. Now let’s jump in.

Soto has primarily batted at No. 1. 2 holes this season, and has also spent significant time as a three-hitter. For his career, he has batted at No.1. 3 plurality at the time, but we’ll bow to recent trends and call him the Padres’ No. 2 man. Meanwhile, Bell has spent the same amount of time as number one in 2022. 3 hitter and cleanup hitter. As for Tatis, last season he spent almost all of his time at second, cleaning up and leading off for the Pads. In light of all of that — but not all of that — San Diego’s massively upgraded lineup could go something like this:

  1. Fernando Tates Jr., SS (Bats: R)
  2. Juan Soto, RF (Bats: L)
  3. Manny Machado, 3B (Bats: R)
  4. Josh Bell, 1B (Bats: B)
  5. Luke Voight, DH, (Bates: R)
  6. Jurgen Profar, LF (Bats: S)
  7. Jake Cronenworth, 2B (Batts: L)
  8. Austin Nola, C (Bates: R)
  9. Trent Grisham, CF (Bates: L)

Needless to say, it’s a formidable lineup, and it’s one that gives the platoon nowhere near the advantage for consistent hitters. Will Myers is still around to spell bullpen against tough lefties if manager Bob Malone deems it wise, and Tates’ return means Ha-Seung Kim returns to a utility role. Soto’s arrival means Nomar Mazara is now left bench. It’s also worth noting that Bell has outscored Hosmer by a considerable margin both in recent history and over the course of his career. Bell’s vast superiority in batted ball quality suggests that this will continue to be the case.

Before the additions of Soto and Bell, the Padres’ offense this season and the impending return of Tots scored 20th in MLB runs and 20th in OPS. However, the race-suppressing nature of their home yard, Petco Park, must be taken into account. Apply that necessary context and we find that the San Diego offense has been 2.0% better than the league average in terms of OPS. We refer to park- and league-adjusted OPS as OPS+, and the Padres are 11th in MLB in that metric this season. It’s a solid showing, and it precedes potentially major upgrades at three positions.

Speaking of which, the SportsLine Projection System estimates that the additions of Soto and Bell increase the Padres’ outlook for the rest of the season by 1.9 wins and their chances of making the postseason to 11.3 percent. has extended to That’s quite a number given that we only have two months left in the regular season.

The Padres have almost zero chance of catching the Dodgers (owners of a 12-game lead) in the National League West, but they improved their playoff run considerably with their deadline deals and the return of Tatis. Also note that wildcard berths now come with a minimum three-game series guarantee as opposed to the one-and-done format before. The Padres have worked to improve their odds of going deep into October. The new lineup above has serious threats to do so this year.