Players getting traded is always a tough pill for fans to swallow, in part because they have no control over the situation whatsoever. That's especially true when that player is arguably the most popular in franchise history.
So, despite all the writing on the wall for weeks, it was absolutely devastating for Nationals fans to see Juan Soto traded to the Padres on Tuesday. And, it was presumably quite shocking for Soto, too, who just like those fans, had no inherent control over his fate.
It's often how those players react publicly to being traded that means a great deal to grieving fans, the final touch of a years-long connection that's been abruptly broken. And it's often that final touch that drives home the reality of the situation after an emotionally torturous experience for all.
For those reasons, 'happiness' probably isn't the right word to describe how fans were feeling when reading Soto's farewell on social media, but the message may pave the road towards closure after all. It matters what players say in these delicate moments. To some, it matters a great deal.
"Thank you to the Nationals organization for the opportunity to realize a childhood dream," Soto wrote on Twitter. "I am forever grateful to my teammates and coaches, as well as the player development and training staffs."
"I will always feel honored to have been a National," he continued. "The accomplishment of winning the franchise’s first World Series title in 2019, and to play for such supportive fans during the last five years will never be forgotten.
"To my Nats Fans: since day one I’ve always had the feeling you would have a special space in my heart but the appreciation that I have for you went over my expectations. Thank you for being such a great family to me. With Love & Gratitude...Forever Yours, Juan Soto."
Juan Soto was just a kid when he signed with the Nationals, only 16 years old. So I'd imagine that despite all the money clouding this moment, parting with the organization and fans that have safeguarded him since adolescence — and watched him grow into adulthood — is quite painful, too.
So, thanking his 'family' feels about right. A classy gesture that's sure to go a long way with those grieving fans.
The Nationals issued a farewell of their own.