On Sunday, the Padres acquired Blake Snell from the Rays for a four-prospect package. Yet again, Rays’ owner Stuart Sternberg is dishing out a star player for players with potential. This time, the star player is their number one starting pitcher and former Cy Young award winner. The Padres’ unbelievable farm system takes a bit of a hit, but only two of their prospects are in their top ten. Let’s breakdown both sides of the Blake Snell trade, and why Rays’ fans should be disappointed yet again.
Soaring in San Diego
San Diego fans were disappointed to hear the news of Mike Clevinger’s season-ending injury, but Snell helps the pain. The all-star almost won the Triple Crown in 2018 and will be a nice addition to a young rotation. The Padres have had a top-five farm system since 2017 and that potential is turning into real talent. Led by an explosive offense powered by the youthful Tatis and Crowenworth, the Padres were a couple pieces short of serious contention last season. Adding Snell will be a great addition, but only if they use him in the correct way.
The biggest thing for San Diego to realize is that they cannot use Snell as a normal starting pitcher. The Rays have used the superstar as an opener for them on many occasions, and this has ultimately led to him pitching less than five innings on average in the last two seasons. We don’t know how well Snell can pitch under a normal starting pitching workload, so the Padres must be careful. If he cannot keep up his success in a standard starter volume, then the Padres may have to adapt the opener strategy as a consistent thing. Luckily for the Padres, they pretty much know what they are getting in Snell. The Rays have a much longer road ahead of developing and trying to unlock potential.
The Rays are being Ruined
Tampa’s four prospect-package includes Luis Patino, Cole Wilcox, Francisco Mejia, and Blake Hunt. Patino (RHP) and Mejia (C) are the only two players that even have MLB experience. Mejia has struggled at the MLB level, both at the dish and behind the plate. His defensive numbers are below league average, and his hitting statistics are some of the worst in baseball. Patino also struggled on the mound at the big-league level, but his potential far outweighs Mejia’s. His athletic frame is intriguing, especially with his surprisingly explosive arm action that touches 99 MPH.
The other two minor-league prospects are the two that have the most potential. Blake Hunt is a 6-foot-3 catcher who is phenomenal on defense. He is surprisingly agile for his frame, and it is shown in his blocking ability and framing skills. Not only does Hunt play defense well, but he also throws out almost a third of runners. His bat has work to do, but it is starting to catch up with his glove.
However, Cole Wilcox might be the player with the highest ceiling. Wilcox was dominant at Georgia, and his high velocity and great off-speed pitches will allow him to develop at the highest level. Wilcox shows off two off-speed pitches that both sit in the ’80s. His change-up is a little better than the slider, but if he can continue to develop it, his slider will be his strikeout pitch. I see Wilcox ending up in the bullpen in San Diego, where he could flourish nicely.
However, Blake Snell is a much safer bet than four unproven prospects. Even if two of the four develop into nice, reliable players, it may not be enough to replace their ace. San Diego wins this trade for now, and it’s hard to see them ever losing it.
The Future is Bright… and also Crashing Down
The Padres are looking to compete now, and picking up Snell accomplishes that mission. He is still only 28 and has three years left on his deal, which gives him time to lead the young Padres deep into the postseason. With word of a Yu Darvish trade on the way as well, the Padres could be developing a commanding rotation. It will be interesting to see who will take the NL West this season with a talented Padres team finally giving the Dodgers some competition. I will still take the Dodgers’ experience, but San Diego will yet again make this season fun. Their shot at a title is increasing, while Tampa’s is dwindling.
The Rays’ owner Stuart Sternberg has proved a really disappointing point by trading Snell. He will never allow Tampa to become a large market team because he prioritizes saving money over winning. The Rays have truly constructed a winner led by analytics. If the Rays are not willing to keep their studs and go win, then they will never reach the top. The four prospects are not going to help Tampa Bay win now, and the Blake Snell trade might end up ruining their chances of reaching a title. The Rays were so close last year, and it seems they have given up.
The Blake Snell trade is huge for San Diego and their fanbase. They have found a replacement for their Mike Clevinger-sized hole. Even if this season isn’t the one for them, their future is sparkling. Having Clevinger, Snell, Paddack, and Darvish leading the rotation will push them over the hump very soon. Party hard San Diego, this is a big win for you!
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