The San Diego Padres are set to acquire former Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell from the Tampa Bay Rays, according to reports from ESPN and USA Today, with a deal having been finalized on Sunday night.
The trade will see four highly rated prospects heading in the other direction from California to Florida. Pitcher Luis Patiño, catchers Francisco Mejia and Blake Hunt and right-handed pitching prospect Cole Wilcox will join the Padres.
The trade remains subject to medical reviews, and was reportedly agreed two months to the day since Snell’s final appearance for the Rays in the World Series. The left-handed pitcher had a one-hit shutout going with one out of the sixth in Game 6 of the World Series against the LA Dodgers.
World Series woes for Rays
Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash pulled the 28-year-old, however, due to the policy of not letting Snell face a line-up for a third time. That decision seemed somewhat strange, given that the top three in the Dodgers line-up, Mookie Betts, Corey Seager and Justin Turner, were 0-for-6 with six strikeouts against Snell in the game.
The decision from Cash proved costly, with Nick Anderson entering the fray and helping the Dodgers turn a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead. That meant the Los Angeles team ended up claiming its first championship since 1988.
Tampa Bay has a history of trading top pitchers, with James Shields, David Price and Chris Archer all having been traded in the past. The franchise has a tradition of churning players in order to manage their payroll spend and ensure that the roster is packed with hungry, young talent. Snell’s deal at Tampa Bay had three years to run and would have cost the Rays $39 million.
Prospects will add plenty to Rays
Patino will certainly add plenty to that Rays roster. The 21-year-old is currently rated as the 22nd best prospect in the majors by MLB.com. This is despite him having started just once and made a mere 11 appearances in total in 2020.
The six-foot right-hander pitches a fast ball that travels at 97 mph and also possesses a slider that is widely considered among the best in the minor leagues. In his 17⅓ innings last season, he posted a 5.19 ERA, struck out 21 and walked 14 – impressive stats.
Mejia is a 25-year-old powerful switch-hitter who had fallen out of favor at San Diego. Wilcox received some attention when he received a $3.3 million bonus when he was taken in the 2020 draft out of Georgia. That bonus was a record amount for a third-round pick.
Hunt is a 20-year-old catcher who has impressed observers with his performances in instructional league play in 2020. His swing reportedly has the potential to take him higher in the prospect rankings very quickly.
This is the second time that the Padres have embarked on a big trade for a pitcher in the last six months. In August, they acquired Mike Clevinger from Cleveland, but he threw just 19 pitches before requiring surgery on an elbow injury.