Well, this one came out of nowhere. Yes, Blake Snell’s name had been on the hot-stove pretty much since the minute Kevin Cash prematurely yanked him from Game 6 of the World Series, costing the Rays a fighting chance, but still. Snell going to the Padres wasn’t something I’d seen anyone talking about before that bomb broke Baseball Twitter an hour ago.
Pending physicals, Snell is headed to San Diego in exchange for a bucketload of prospects, something the Tampa Bay Rays didn’t even need to begin with, but are stockpiling like kids collecting Beanie Babies in the 90s. Well, those cuties are worth a lot of money now! Anyway, the Rays already have the best farm system in MLB, and they just put three cherries on top of their loaded sundae in the form of RHP Luis Patino, RHP Cole Wilcox, and catcher Blake Hunt. It’s a classic American tale, the rich getting richer; maybe baseball is still America’s pastime after all!
The No. 1 farm system and the No. 3 farm system making a blockbuster, mutually-beneficial trade is kind of like the captain of the football team dating the head cheerleader so they can be crowned Prom King and Queen. From the outset, getting the 2018 Cy Young in exchange for two top-ten prospect pitchers and a top-20 catcher looks like a pretty even exchange. Both teams are setting themselves up for success in the near (Padres) and not-so-distant (Rays) future, though at some point, the Rays might actually have to spend some money if they want to win big. After all, there’s no trophy given to the franchise with the best prospects.
Snell, of course, won the Cy Young Award in 2018, when he led the American League with a 1.89 ERA over a career-high 180.2 innings in 31 games (all starts). That season, he led all of MLB with a 5.6 hits-per-nine-innings, a career-best. Overall, he has a career 3.24 ERA over 108 games (all starts) in five MLB seasons, and rebounded nicely in 2020 after an injury-plagued 2019 season. Of course, his season ended on a sour note when his now-former manager took him out of his World Series start, which may have motivated Snell to ask be traded.
I’m no diehard Padres fan, but as someone who appreciates good baseball, I can’t wait to watch this team next season. Blake Snell just went from one postseason team to another, and now, he’ll be backed up by the powerful bat of Fernando Tatis Jr. Their brown-and-yellow cap is still in the Trevor Bauer ring, too, and adding Snell might give San Diego a serious edge in Bauer’s eyes, as he’s been open about wanting to play on contenders every year. If they can manage to acquire both Cy Young arms in one offseason, the Padres would easily cement themselves as the best starting rotation baseball has seen in years. Factor in Mike Clevinger returning from Tommy John in 2022, and the Padres might finally win that World Series ‘piece of metal’ that has eluded them for half a century. Heck, they might not even need ‘Clev’ if they get Bauer, but if watching the Red Sox stumble their way through a revolving door of disastrous arms over the last two seasons has taught me anything, it’s that there’s no such thing as too much reliable pitching.
Speaking of the Boston Red Sox, this trade presumably takes San Diego out of the running to entice Tomoyuki Sugano, the impressive Japanese arm who will choose his MLB landing spot next week.
Enjoy these Sunday Scaries, NL West. New Year’s isn’t for a few days, but the Padres just became the team to beat in 2021.