Blake Snell to Padres for more than just a slapdick prospect

A blockbuster trade went down late on Sunday night which will send former Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell across the continent from Florida to California.

It looks like a win-win trade and hardly a slapdick prospect in sight.

The 28-year-old left-hander, with three years and $39 million left on his contract, will join Dinelson Lamet, Zach Davies, Chris Paddack, Adrián Morejón, Joey Lucchesi, Michel Báez, Anderson Espinoza, Ryan Weathers and MacKenzie Gore in one of the most exciting pitching staff in baseball.

Padres General Manager, A.J. Preller lands the top-of-the-rotation arm he wanted when he signed Mike Clevinger in August.

Clevinger will miss the whole of the 2021 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but already the 2022 rotation looks like the best in the game.

Unfortunately, given the dominance of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Padres will still probably finish double-digit games behind them.

The New York Yankees will also consider themselves as winners today, with yet another ace departing the AL East.

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Whether you think the Padres overpaid or got away with daylight robbery, depends upon the valuation you place on prospects.

Luis Patiño is a hard-throwing Colombian pitcher that every one of the 30 franchises would like to build a rotation around. Ignore his 2020 big league introduction (17⅓ innings, 5.19 ERA), but instead focus on the 123 strikeouts in 94⅔ innings and 2.57 ERA in the low minors last year. And remember he was still only 20 years old.

The second, potentially franchise-changing pitcher to move from San Diego in this deal is Cole Wilcox.

He was considered by some to have the best pure stuff in the 2020 draft.

Also making the move east, is former top-100 prospect Francisco Mejía. The catcher was already involved in one blockbuster trade when Cleveland exchanged him for ace reliever Brad Hand.

Mejía only hit .077 for San Diego last season, but it is widely accepted that catchers take longer to develop than position players, so it’s likely the Rays are buying low on the 25-year-old.

The fourth player in the deal is an even younger catcher, Blake Hunt. The Padres’ 14th ranked prospect fills the catcher void in the Rays farm system. San Diego paid overslot for him in 2017, and he has developed into a reliable catcher with high upside bat.

VERDICT

In July 2018, the Rays traded away a “Talented starter viewed as a target for years by rival organisations intrigued not only by his big innings and strikeout totals, but also his extremely valuable contract.”

In return for Chris Archer, they got floundering, former top prospect Austin Meadows, and unharnessable reliever Tyler Glasnow. And we all know how that trade turned out.

However, from a neutral point of view, it’s difficult not to agree with the sentiment from L.A. Times’ Jorge Castillo:

Also from a neutral point of view, it’s an exciting deal that pushes the Padres a little closer to the Dodgers, and will probably work out even better for the Rays.

A less neutral opinion was sought from Bat Flips and Nerds’ resident Padres fan, Tom Pringle:

After years of watching the likes of Clayton Richard, Jhoulys Chacin, James Shields, Bryan Mitchell and Jered Weaver, Padres fans can finally stop saying “Well, if the starters can go at least five innings, the bullpen might be able to drag us through.”

The Friars have a rotation where people can debate the order, talk about who’s the ace, and not because they have a mix of four/five-type guys.

Patiño was highly touted and a real future star, however the Padres need the ace now and not years away. MacKenzie Gore isn’t exactly a bad prospect to fill the gap.

Mejía didn’t really work behind the plate, many wished he would convert to the outfield but he was adamant to stay behind the dish. He got better defensively over the last season, but still isn’t great.

An equally positive view of the trade came from another Brit, author of the Four Bases annual and Tampa Bay Rays fan, Joel Bailey:

A less enthusiastic reaction came from from Bat Flips and Nerds’ Rays follower, Rob Novarrez

Losing Snell typifies what it is to be a Rays fan. It’s gut wrenching for the fans of a team that wants to compete for the World Series. Every team should want a pitcher like Snell at that cost.

Blockbuster trades always look light for the team giving up the star, but with three years of control and no injury worries, this does seem particularly light.

Patiño is obviously no slouch, and a Catcher that can hit at near replacement level has always been a problem for the Rays, but it feels like it’s lacking something else that they can use now.

The Rays have a knack for seeing opportunity where the rest of us don’t, and their track record affords them a degree of trust, but right now, losing Snell and further carving up the rotation for another slap-dick prospect hurts.

But to finish, a final word from Tom Pringle “The Dodgers may be tipped to dominate the NL West, but the boys in brown aren’t going to make it easy. I’m excited. Pennants fly forever and all that.”

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