Published by Fran Cava
It’s about damn time a move was made.
So far the MLB offseason has aged like a bottle of Yellow Tail. Each week is more boring than the next, with the same reoccurring trade rumors and a lack of free agent noise in the air. Tonight, we fans were thrown a bone when a few writers at the Athletic broke the news of former Cy-Young winner Blake Snell being sent out west to San Diego. The initial reaction by fans has been mixed, with some salivating over the potential of the Friars 2021 rotation – and others bringing up Tampa’s track record when making deals. Does this make San Diego a real threat to LA? Does this setback Tampa, or does it set them up for an even better future? Could it be an evenly valued trade? Let’s unravel each team’s perspective.
The Impact for San Diego
The Padres made a power move this past trade deadline, dealing a few top prospects in return for a legitimate number two starter in Mike Clevinger. Unfortunately for them, he had to undergo Tommy John which puts their rotation back at square one. They have a potential late bloomer coming into their own in Lamet, Paddack is a promising young pitcher, and a top prospect in Mackenzie Gore knocking on the big leagues’ door. There’s no way around the fact that they got their asses handed to them by the Dodgers in the 2020 NL Division Series. In their defense, it was the Dodgers, but still, a bad way to go out to a bitter rival. They assessed the situation internally and ultimately concluded that they still need another arm. Still, with a deep farm system, they were able to pull off this deal tonight. It was an aggressive move by a team in a position where some organizations may be too scared to. You just made a deal trading some guys at the top of your farm, to do it once again a few months later? It was a risky move but it was the right decision. The Dodgers are an unrelenting juggernaut who keep improving, so if you want to compete you have to stay aggressive. Not only do they acquire a team-friendly contract with Snell, but they get a damn good top of the rotation guy when he’s clicking. Just look at his percentiles from BaseballSavant this season.
This is a move that improves their current roster and especially helps their 2022 team. When Clevinger returns this gives San Diego an elite rotation on paper, to go along with a young and talented lineup backing it up. While they still are a step behind the Dodgers, they made a move to try and close the gap.
The Impact for Tampa Bay
The argument of the Rays usually being on the right side of a deal is valid, but I truly believe both sides benefited. The Rays need Snell, but they dealt him here when they felt his value was at its peak. He’s got a few years left which raises questions as to why they were so eager to trade him, but it may be a money situation more than anything. The Rays front office simply refuses to put money into the team. This has been demonstrated over the past decade and a half; as they raise these home-grown stars just to trade them away for prospects. It’s a vicious cycle which the ten devoted Rays fans have watched from the monstrosity of a stadium that Tropicana Field is. Somehow they beat the odds of a small market team and made the World Series – putting up a true fight against the Death Star in LA. They follow this up by losing two key starters to trades and free agency now. In the end, they managed to secure a great package. They acquired 2 great prospects in Luis Patino and Francisco Mejia and two guys with a lot of upside in Blake Hunt and Cole Wilcox. Patino projects to be a top of the line starter, while Mejia has been waiting for a big-league catching spot. Hunt is a raw catcher with plus fielding, and Wilcox is a young arm just taken in the last draft. Knowing the Rays they probably did get a gem or two; it’s just a shame to see the never-ending penny-pinching strategy potentially limit their ceiling.