Padres fans might be sick watching departed top prospect in Juan Soto trade dominate

The Padres are growing to regret letting this stud prospect slip through their grasp.

Washington Nationals v Miami Marlins
Washington Nationals v Miami Marlins / Rich Storry/GettyImages

Every team has prospects they wish they hadn't traded away, and the San Diego Padres are no different. Sometimes a team has to give up a guy they like to make a critical in-season move while other times a team misevaluates a player's talent, or simply hadn't put him in a position to succeed like another organization could.

Normally, the Padres have been the beneficiaries of these sorts of trades as AJ Preller has good eye for prospect talent. San Diego famously acquired Fernando Tatis Jr. when he was just 17 years old in the deal that sent James Shields to the White Sox, and that turned out quite well.

Unfortunately, it appears as though the Padres are on the other side of things when it comes to James Wood, who was a well-regarded prospect after the Padres picked him in the second round of the 2021 draft. But the Pads got the opportunity to trade for Juan Soto and sent Wood in a massive prospect package to get a deal done.

Now, Soto is a Yankee while Wood looks as though he is going to mash his way to being a star in the league with the Nationals.

James Wood's ascension is a cautionary tale for the Padres

At the time, it was completely understandable for San Diego to try and push their chips in on a Soto trade. One can quibble with the exact names involved, but the Padres were very much all-in on contention and Soto was (and remains) one of the best players in the league. When those types of guys become available on the trade market, sometimes you just have to strike while the iron is hot and accept that a deal may not end well.

Sadly for the Padres, that appears to be the case here. A bit over a year later, the team was forced to trade Soto away to trim payroll and now will be fortunate to compete for a wild card playoff spot in 2024. Other prospects the Padres gave up in the deal have had their moments like CJ Abrams and Mackenzie Gore, but James Wood is pretty clearly the one that's going to end up haunting San Diego, especially given their dearth of outfield talent.

Since being traded away, Wood has established himself as one of the best prospects in baseball. Just last season, he slashed .262/.353/.520 with 26 homers and 18 stolen bases between High-A and Double-A. At just 21 years old, his overflowing tool kit is making a strong case for the Nationals' Opening Day roster this spring. The smarter money is that the Nationals take a bit more time with him than that since they aren't going to contend this year, but Wood's ascension is still hard to ignore.

This is the risk you take when you make aggressive trades for big names. You have to give to get, and in this particular case the Padres gave up a superb outfield talent to land Soto and are now left trying to figure out who they can slot into their outfield as the options dwindle.

More Padres News from Friars on Base