Trading Juan Soto (and Josh Bell) to the San Diego Padres at the trade deadline last August, Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo told reporters at the end of the 2022 campaign, gave the club’s all-in reboot, rebuild, or whatever, a boost with five highly-regarded prospects [CJ Abrams, MacKenzie Gore, Robert Wood, Robert Hassell III, and Jarlin Susana] and the since-released Luke Voit coming back in return.
“I think after this trade deadline I think it accelerated our process a little bit,” Rizzo told reporters of the impact of the new additions on the organization.
“We added a lot of talent to our system, and I think you can kind of see the aftermath of where our system was pre- and post-trade deadline, and I think that we’re excited about what’s to come in the future.
“And I think the blueprint to win in a timely fashion is in place, and we’re excited about it.”
Two trade deadline hauls, and first-year and international draft classes, Rizzo said, put the club in a good spot as the Nationals try to build another perennial contender.
“I think our system is different right now than it was a year ago. I think it’s deeper,” Rizzo explained. “We’ve had two what I believe are successful trade deadline acquisition periods, we’ve had two successful drafts. We’ve done a good job in the international market. I think that our prospect depth is as good as it’s ever been here in the organization, and I think that the upside of our prospect list is probably the highest it’s ever been.”
The biggest step in the process, he said was adding the haul they received in return for Soto (and Bell) to the system.
“I think that was the biggest step that we made,” Rizzo said. “I thought it was a courageous move by ownership to allow us to do a Soto deal if we got the deal that we needed to get, and I think it was very important to the organization to do that deal, and to get the players that we needed to get to trade such a special player in Juan, and to get the players we did, I think we’re very fortunate to get what we got.”
Two of the prospects (James Wood – 16; and Robert Hassell III – 43) the Nats got from the Friars were in Keith Law’s Top 50 when The Athletic’s reporter released his Top 100 prospect list for 2023 this week, and the Nationals had a total of five prospects on Law’s list, with 2022 1st Round pick Elijah Green (35); 2020 first-rounder Cade Cavalli (71); and 2021 1st Round pick Brady House (85) all making it.
Wood, Law writes, “… has done nothing but hit in pro ball since the Padres took him in the second round in 2021 and paid him a high first-round bonus to draw him away from Mississippi State.”
Green, in Law’s assessment, “… has plus power already that projects to grade 70,” on the 20-80 scouting scale, “… with tremendous hand acceleration and loud contact when he gets his arms extended.”
Hassell is, “… a high-floor, lower-ceiling guy, without superstar upside but with a very good chance to be a solid regular for a long time.”
Cavalli, who made his MLB debut late in 2022, “… out-stuffed hitters all the way up to Triple A in his first full pro season, then returned to that level in  and made some real improvements,” on his way up, and he figures to be part of the rotation in D.C. in 2023.
House, the Nationals’ 2021 1st Round pick, had a back issue limit him in ‘22, but, Law writes, he, “… has enormous upside, probably not at shortstop, but needs reps to develop as a hitter and to find a position.”
It’s not just Law who likes the Nationals’ top prospects…