Dave Martinez remembers the first time he saw Juan Soto on a baseball field.
The first pitch in spring training that Soto saw was a 55 mph slider in the dirt, and Martinez remembers the now generational superstar ripping the next pitch for a double, marking the type of adjustments that would make Soto an eventual batting champ, World Series champ, and centerpiece of one of the biggest trades in MLB history after being dealt to the Padres on Tuesday.
“It’s very tough,” Martinez said. “As tough as it may be - we all love Juan Soto, and we all love Josh Bell - we are headed in the right direction….be patient. This organization will be good again.
“I’m proud of being part of this organization and being part of this city. I’m looking forward to the future.”
Of course, it will be hard for fans to see that optimism in the short term, as a 23-year-old who is off to one of the best career starts in the history of the sport is now gone, as are many others from the 2019 World Series squad. But as GM Mike Rizzo said earlier in the day, Martinez believes better days will be ahead for the franchise, even if the loss of Soto stings in the present moment.
“He was a big part of our success in ’19,” Martinez said. “Those memories will never go away. He’s a great kid, and I wished him all the best moving forward…what he meant to us as a Nationals family, for this city, for the fans, we should cherish that.
“We’re in a position now to move on. We feel like with the players we got, the future is bright. I’m looking forward to that moving forward.”