How the Padres trading for Juan Soto is impacting 2022 World Series odds

Washington Nationals' Juan Soto tosses his bat after defeating Cleveland.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

The San Diego Padres’ acquisition of Juan Soto before the MLB trade deadline has bolstered the team’s World Series odds, but not as much as one might think.

Lost in the magnitude of the Juan Soto trade is that the San Diego Padres also got a very strong switch-hitter in 1B/OF Josh Bell, who will help a lineup that ranks 20th in weighted on-base average (wOBA) and 25th in slugging percentage (SLG). Bell owns a .301/.384/.493 slash with a 142 wRC + (means he’s 42% above league average offensively).

An unprecedented trade took place Tuesday when the Washington Nationals dealt 23-year-old superstar outfielder Soto to the Padres in exchange for a massive haul of prospects and first baseman/designated hitter Luke Voit. Soto’s trade availability came about when he turned down a reported 15-year, $440-million extension in July and the Nationals opted to capitalize on his enormous trade value.

DraftKings Sportsbook had one of the higher market prices on the Padres to win the World Series at 20/1 prior to the trade, as many sportsbooks proactively lowered their odds given all of the speculation that Soto would be sent to San Diego. Minutes before the trade was announced, DraftKings moved to 18/1 and then down to 12/1 after temporarily taking the odds off the board as the particulars of the deal broke on social media.

At time of publish, the Padres were 11/1 to win their first World Series title in franchise history. They haven’t won a playoff series since 1998 when they were swept in the World Series by the Yankees.

Soto is only batting .246, but has one of the league’s highest on-base percentages at .408 with a 20.9% BB%. He’s got a .485 SLG with 21 home runs in 101 games. Soto has faced the lowest percentage of fastballs in his career and still owns a 151 wRC +, which makes him 51% above league average offensively. He’s under team control through 2024, and then the Padres will have a decision to make with Manny Machado signed through 2028 and Fernando Tatis Jr. signed through 2034 to big-money deals.

The Padres gave up a king’s ransom. They traded four top-85 prospects in baseball, according to FanGraphs. Infielder C.J. Abrams is the centerpiece of the trade as a 21-year-old that has already reached the big leagues. Left-handed pitcher MacKenzie Gore has shown plenty of flashes of brilliance, though he is on the IL with a sore elbow. The others are outfielders Robert Hassell III and James Wood, who is just 19 years old. Both have intriguing power and speed tools. Right-handed pitcher Jarlin Susana was also in the deal.

Abrams will play every day for Washington and Gore will be a rotation fixture if he comes back. The others are a long way from the majors.

In the short-term, the Padres don’t have much World Series value and probably won’t have much game-by-game betting value as the hype of the Soto deal dominates the narrative. The Padres do have 12 head-to-head meetings left with the Dodgers and trail by 12 games in the NL West standings. San Diego is 35/1 to win the division at DraftKings and now + 450 to win the NL.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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