With Trade of Juan Soto, the Nationals Fire Sale Is Complete | Big Indy News
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With Trade of Juan Soto, the Nationals Fire Sale Is Complete

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In one of the biggest deadline trades in baseball history, outfielder Juan Soto of the Washington Nationals is headed to the San Diego Padres in a blockbuster deal that was announced by both teams ahead of the 6 p.m. trade deadline on Tuesday.

The trade, which had been held up earlier in the day because first baseman Eric Hosmer invoked the limited no-trade clause in his contract, sends Soto and first baseman Josh Bell to the Padres in exchange for an impressive haul of prospects: shortstop CJ Abrams, outfielders Robert Hassell III and James Wood, the left-handed pitcher MacKenzie Gore and the right-handed pitcher Jarlin Susana.

First baseman Luke Voit was added to the deal with the Nationals later on Tuesday to replace Hosmer, who was subsequently traded to the Boston Red Sox.

Mike Rizzo, the Nationals general manager who signed Soto out of his native Dominican Republic as a 16-year-old, told reporters that it was a “difficult day” and that there was no edict to trade Soto.

Rizzo told reporters that he felt the Nationals were not going to be able to keep Soto long term and thought the most the team could get in return for him was now. He commended the Padres and their general manager, A.J. Preller, for not only meeting but exceeding the high asking price. “They’re not afraid,” Rizzo said.

Soto, 23, had been the subject of intense trade speculation for many weeks. It is rare that a slugger that talented and that young is shipped away.

The most similar move in recent years was when the Los Angeles Dodgers acquired Mookie Betts from the Boston Red Sox, but even in that case, he was 27 — four years older than Soto.

But the Nationals, who won the 2019 World Series with an exciting young core, have struggled on the field since. And as those struggles mounted, they have been compounded by the departures of several notable figures from their winning years: outfielder Bryce Harper, shortstop Trea Turner, third baseman Anthony Rendon, pitcher Max Scherzer and Soto are all gone.

After the rebuilding Nationals failed to sign Soto to a contract extension — he turned down the latest effort, a 15-year, $440 million deal that would have been the largest contract in baseball history — the team began entertaining offers for him. Soto is slated to reach free agency in 2025, so the Padres will have him under team control for the next three pennant races even without an extension.

“It’s hard,” said Nationals designated hitter Nelson Cruz, one of Soto’s mentors who noted that Soto had bought a house in the Washington area. “He was the face of the franchise. I know we’re going to miss him and the fans will miss him, too.”

Added Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle: “Even though there was a chance of this, it seems like, for the last month or so, it still feels a little bit shocking and disorienting.”

The Padres, with a deep farm system, agreed to fork over several of their best young players and prospects in exchange for Soto and Bell, a free agent at the end of this season.

Abrams, who made his major league debut in April, and Gore, who recently landed on the major league injured list with an elbow injury, were each once the Padres’ top overall prospect. Hassell currently holds that title, according to M.L.B.com’s rankings, while Wood, a 6-foot-7 center fielder, ranks third. Susana has a 2.45 E.R.A. in rookie ball.

All of the players the Nationals acquired from San Diego, other than Voit, a former Yankees slugger, are 23 or younger. While the Padres have been furiously improved at the trade deadline with the additions of closer Josh Hader, infielder Brandon Drury, Bell and Soto, the Nationals entered Tuesday with the worst record (35-69) in baseball and even less talent in the major-league clubhouse.

“It’s not going to be easy for the fans,” Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard said. “It’s a generational type player and anytime you lose that it’s hard for us. But it’s probably harder for the fans because I’m sure they wanted him to be around for the next 15 years.”

Soto’s addition to the Padres vaults them into World Series contention. Trailing the Dodgers by 12 games in the N.L. West race through Monday, San Diego is in a prime spot to nab one of the league’s three wild-card spots. Soto joins a dangerous lineup that includes the All-Star third baseman Manny Machado, shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. (who is expected to return from a wrist injury soon), the All-Star second baseman Jake Cronenworth and Bell, who was hitting .301 before the trade.

Drury, who was acquired from the Cincinnati Reds, can play multiple defensive positions and was hitting .274 with 20 home runs at the time of the trade, while Hader, the longtime closer of the Milwaukee Brewers, was an All-Star last month before a rough stretch in recent weeks caused his E.R.A. to balloon.

But the undisputed jewel of the day was Soto, a two-time All-Star outfielder, who hit .246 with 21 home runs and an .894 on-base plus slugging percentage in 101 games for the Nationals in 2022. Those numbers qualify as a down year for the young superstar. Previously, he won the World Series in 2019, a batting title in 2020 and the Home Run Derby last month. Since his rookie season, in 2018, only nine players had accumulated more wins above replacement through Monday, according to FanGraphs.

“We were so lucky to have him,” Doolittle said. “We don’t win that World Series without him. He’s probably the best player in baseball. He’s having a down year and his O.P.S. is still at .900. His comps are Hall of Famers.”

David Waldstein contributed reporting from Washington.



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NFL Power Rankings for Week 13: Chiefs keep rolling

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There is a football adage that the season starts in December. 

Well, the NFL certainly will have a playoff feel to begin the month. 

There are five games this week between teams with winning records. 

That means 10 of the 16 teams above .500 are going head-to-head. 

Let’s make sense of the loaded NFC East with a Giants-Commanders battle. Enjoy an AFC Championship rematch between the Chiefs and Bengals. The storybook of old-faces-in-new-places presents Titans-Eagles (wide receiver A.J. Brown) and Dolphins-49ers (too many to list). And the exciting matchup no one expected between the Vikings and Jets. 

Here are The Post’s NFL power rankings for Week 13: 

1. Kansas City Chiefs 9-2 (1) 

Make it five wins in a row for the Chiefs, who needed only one Patrick Mahomes touchdown pass to beat the Rams, 26-10. Harrison Butker (four field goals) did the heavy lifting after the offense uncharacteristically stalled in the red zone. What sounded like a great preseason matchup lost its luster with Bryce Perkins replacing Matthew Stafford at quarterback. 

Patrick Mahomes
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2. Philadelphia Eagles 10-1 (2) 

In this era of so many dual-threat quarterbacks, Jalen Hurts became the first ever with at least 125 rushing yards and at least 125 passing yards in a half during a 40-33 victory against the Packers. Led by Hurts (157) and Miles Sanders (143), the Eagles rushed for 363 yards – the seventh-highest single-game total since 1975. 

3. Miami Dolphins 8-3 (4) 

The Dolphins returned from the bye week as hot as they entered it, building a 30-point lead before hanging on for a 30-15 victory against the Texans that ran their winning streak to five. Tua Tagovailoa has four straight interception-less games. The defense limited the Texans to 32 total yards on their first 25 plays. 

4. Buffalo Bills 8-3 (3) 

Crazy stat alert! Returning to Detroit only five days after tallying a snowstorm-forced neutral-site win there, the Bills edged the Lions, 28-25, on a field goal with two seconds remaining. That means the Bills (not the Lions) are the first team to win back-to-back games at Ford Field since 2016. Stefon Diggs made multiple game-changing catches in the final three minutes. 

5. Dallas Cowboys 8-3 (5) 

Dak Prescott’s 10th straight victory over the Giants was a second-half comeback on Thanksgiving. He threw two touchdowns to Dalton Schultz and six completions to one-handed magician CeeDee Lamb in a 28-20 victory. Micah Parsons’ two drive-altering sacks made it look like so many recent games in this rivalry, where the Giants offensive line is overmatched. 

6. Minnesota Vikings 9-2 (6) 

In a show of resilience, Kirk Cousins led scores on five straight true possessions early in the game and threw a fourth-quarter go-ahead touchdown to Adam Thielen to beat the Patriots, 33-26, on Thanksgiving. What a wild few weeks, after the Vikings’ signature overtime win at the Bills was followed by a disastrous blowout loss to the Cowboys. 

Kirk Cousins
Kirk Cousins
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7. San Francisco 49ers 7-4 (10) 

How good is this defense? After shutting out opponents in the second half of the previous three games, the 49ers doubled that effort, forced two fumbles by Alvin Kamara and blanked the Saints, 13-0. It was the first time New Orleans didn’t score in 333 games, back to 2001. Jimmy Garoppolo caught a break on a tipped-ball touchdown pass. 

8. Cincinnati Bengals 7-4 (12) 

Even without two of their top playmakers – Joe Mixon and Ja’Marr Chase – the Bengals repeated their first playoff surprise from last season’s Super Bowl run by beating the Titans, 20-16, in Nashville. Samaje Perine and Tee Higgins filled in perfectly for the injured duo. Joe Burrow was sacked just once after the Titans got him nine times in the playoffs. 

9. Baltimore Ravens 7-4 (7) 

Justin Tucker tried to break his own NFL record and rescue the Ravens after blowing a nine-point lead, but his 67-yard field goal fell short just as time expired in a 28-27 loss to the Jaguars. The defense allowed a third-and-21 completion leading to a fourth-down conversion as part of a touchdown drive (plus go-ahead two-point conversion) in the final 2:02. 

10. Tennessee Titans 7-4 (8) 

The Titans still haven’t allowed more than 20 points in eight straight games. But 20 still can be too much to overcome with the methodical way that they play offense, as shown in the loss to the Bengals. Derrick Henry was held to 17 carries for 38 yards. Three trips to the red zone resulted in zero touchdowns. 

11. Washington Commanders 7-5 (15) 

12. Seattle Seahawks 6-5 (11) 

13. New York Giants 7-4 (9) 

Head coach Brian Daboll faces his first bit of adversity. Two straight losses and a mountain of injuries, especially on the offensive line and in the secondary, threaten to ruin a fairytale underdog-to-the-playoffs story. Saquon Barkley carried 11 times for 39 yards, and Daniel Jones reverted to a mediocre one-dimensional quarterback without running lanes in the loss to the Cowboys. 

14. Los Angeles Chargers 6-5 (16) 

15. New England Patriots 6-5 (13) 

16. New York Jets 7-4 (17) 

Mike White replaced Zach Wilson as the starting quarterback and led the Jets to their first opening-drive touchdown of the season. He poured it on with 315 passing yards and three touchdowns (two to Garrett Wilson) in a 31-10 win over the Trevor Siemian-led Bears. For the fifth time, the defense was gifted a game against a backup quarterback. 

17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 5-6 (14) 

18. Atlanta Falcons 5-7 (19) 

19. Jacksonville Jaguars 4-7 (25) 

20. Indianapolis Colts 4-7-1 (18) 

21. Arizona Cardinals 4-8 (20) 

22. Pittsburgh Steelers 4-7 (29 

23. Detroit Lions 4-7 (21) 

24. New Orleans Saints 4-8 (23) 

25. Las Vegas Raiders 4-7 (26) 

26. Green Bay Packers 4-8 (22) 

27. Carolina Panthers 4-8 (28) 

28. Cleveland Browns 4-7 (30) 

29. Los Angeles Rams 3-8 (24) 

30. Chicago Bears 3-9 (27) 

31. Denver Broncos 3-8 (31) 

32. Houston Texans 1-9-1 (32)

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Rangers blow another multi-goal lead in alarming loss to Devils

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Devils fans showed up in numbers to Madison Square Garden on Monday night to see it. 

Their flourishing, Metropolitan-leading Devils marched into enemy territory, winners of 15 of their last 16 games, to take on the slipping Rangers in a battle for power after years of simmering in their shadow. Their team did not disappoint, but the Rangers did, as they allowed another multi-goal lead to vanish in an alarm-bell-sounding 5-3 loss — their third in a row. 

The Rangers had won nine of their last 10 games against the Devils dating back to March 4, 2021, and had gone 14-6 since 2018-19. This was a Devils team that the Rangers finished 47 points ahead of last season, when they reached the Eastern Conference final while their counterparts across the Hudson watched the postseason from afar for a fourth straight year. 

Two things are for certain after this game: The Devils are no joke and the Rangers are in a predicament. 

The Devils rallied from two goals down to beat the Rangers on Monday.
Robert Sabo

“We’ve got to turn it around,” head coach Gerard Gallant said. “Tonight was a good night to try and turn it around with the team that we were playing: a young team but they play hard, they play fast. I wouldn’t say that they’re the surprise team of the year, but they look really good and they play hard. 

“[Devils head coach] Lindy [Ruff] has done a good job with that team. They’ve got a lot of confidence and they’re playing the right way.” 

It’s not just the Rangers’ turnovers, which there have been plenty of in recent games, but how those mistakes always seem to end up in the back of the net one way or another. The Rangers are paying for it almost every time. That may be a testament to some bad puck luck, but also to goalie Igor Shesterkin’s drop-off from supernatural goaltender to just a good goaltender. 

Rangers
Devils center Michael McLeod (20) reacts after he rebounds the puck and scores a goal pass New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin.
Robert Sabo

Shesterkin put all of the blame on himself after the loss, saying that he played “a s–t game” and that he’s “ashamed.” The Russian netminder stopped 33 of the 37 shots he faced, but it’s the goals the reigning Vezina Trophy-winner never surrendered last season that are likely weighing on his mind. 

“Every goal is [an] easy play for me,” he said without the help of translator. “I have to stop those. If our team wants to win the game, I have to play better.” 

The Rangers blew their second multi-goal lead in as many games, but it all went down in the opening 20 minutes instead of the final frame — as was the case in their third-period collapse against the Oilers on Saturday. 

After Artemi Panarin snapped a 12-game streak without a goal off an odd-man rush with Filip Chytil less than a minute and a half into the game, Devils goalie Vitek Vanecek fumbled a Jacob Trouba shot and Mika Zibanejad jammed home the rebound to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead roughly three minutes after the initial puck dropped. 

A two-goal deficit didn’t faze the Devils in the slightest. Their confidence with the puck never wavered, and the visitors finessed their way back into the game even before the first period ended on goals from Tomas Tatar and Yegor Sharangovich. 

Rangers
Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin (10) celebrates with Rangers center Filip Chytill after he scores a goal.
Robert Sabo

Fans in red chirped their signature ‘Woo’s!’, which multiply when a game is leaning heavily in their favor, as their team ripped the game away from the Rangers. 

“It feels great to beat the Rangers,” Devils captain Nico Hischier told reporters. 

It wasn’t until there was 6:42 left in regulation that Vincent Trocheck made it a one-goal game for the Rangers, who failed to capitalize on any of their four man-advantage opportunities in the final 20 minutes. The Devils still closed them out — with Sharangovich adding an empty-netter for good measure — despite getting outshot 17-5 in the final frame. 

There was a shift that unfolded on the Garden ice Monday night. The Rangers were on the wrong end of it.

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Joe Harris provides Nets with Kevin Durant backup in win over Magic

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The Nets have gotten huge nights from Kevin Durant before this season. 

This time, they didn’t squander it and pulled out a 109-102 escape against woebegone Orlando before a crowd of 15,704 at Barclays Center that serenaded Durant with chants of ‘M-V-P!’ 

And who was to argue? Certainly not the Magic, beaten by his brilliance and machine-like efficiency. 

Durant poured in a season-high 45 points Monday, doing it on 19-for-24 shooting. But after the Nets had lost his two 37-point outings against Memphis and Dallas, this time they got some timely stops and a breakout from struggling Joe Harris. 

“Just keep playing within the flow, because — respectfully — I feel like I’m always on. I feel like I always, even if I’m not making shots that night, I feel like my jump shot is always sharp,” Durant said. “So I just got to see how the game has been played, see how the defense is being played, what my teammates are doing as well. It’s a lot to think about out there, but it’s a fun mental game that I play.” 

Durant out-thought and outwitted Orlando (5-16) all night. 

Joe Harris came into Monday night ice cold, but broke out to the tune of a season-high 17 points against the Magic.
Corey Sipkin for the NY POST Photo

Kyrie Irving added 20 points, and Nic Claxton had 17 with 13 rebounds. But the biggest help may have come from Harris, who’d been mired in an awful 3-for-24 shooting skid the prior four games but broke out with 17 points. 

All were left suitably awed by Durant — not for the first time. 

“Oh yeah, all the time,” Irving said. “All the time. I think it’s a natural reaction when you’re seeing something special occur in front of you. You do your best to still be engaged, but it’s hard not to just stare and just watch somebody that special and talented. We know what he’s capable of, but when he shows his talent … it’s definitely an honor to be a part of. Grateful to be his teammate. 

“Super efficient, bailing us out a lot of times on possessions. And when he’s got it going like that, we don’t want to force him the ball, but we definitely want to let him work. … I feel like we still could do more as teammates, but he carried us.” 

The Nets trailed by double digits, down 28-18 with 3:14 left in the first on a 3-pointer by spindly Bol Bol. But they clawed back into it, leading by one at the break. 

Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) drives against Orlando Magic forward Franz Wagner
The Nets didn’t let Kevin Durant go at it alone against Orlando.
Corey Sipkin for the NY POST Photo

Durant poured in 19 points in a third quarter that saw the Nets outscore the Magic 35-25, shooting 60 percent and 5 of 9 from behind the arc. 

“That’s not my first time, it won’t be my last. He’s arguably the best player in the world. Brings it night in and night out, competes on both ends. And [this] was special performance,” said Harris. 

Trailing 53-52 after a Gary Harris finger roll, Durant edged the Nets ahead. 

The Nets were clinging to a 77-76 lead with 2:53 left in the third, before Durant punctuated a 10-0 run. His midrange pull-up padded the cushion to 11 with 38 seconds left in the third, and they managed to hold Orlando at bay in the fourth to reach 11-11 on the season. 

“We got so close and we ended up falling two games under .500,” Durant said. “So just wanted to … it’s a little milestone we wanted to achieve in the early season, and definitely was motivated to come out here on our home floor and get back to .500. 

“Every game we play at home is so important because we want to keep our friends engaged and keep them supporting us through just having a good product out on the court, which is playing hard, playing together. We want guys to feel comfortable in our home arena when they take shots. So it’s a lot on the line when we play at home. And we want to take advantage of those opportunities.”

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