The San Diego Padres have finalized their acquisition of ace left-hander Blake Snell from the Tampa Bay Rays, sending four prospects in exchange for the 2018 AL Cy Young Award winner
SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Padres finalized their acquisition of ace left-hander Blake Snell from the Tampa Bay Rays, sending four prospects in exchange for the 2018 AL Cy Young Award winner.
The Rays will receive right-handers Luis Patiño and Cole Wilcox and catchers Francisco Mejía and Blake Hunt in the deal announced Tuesday.
Snell went 4-1 with a 3.24 ERA in 11 starts during the pandemic-shortened 2020 regular season, then went 2-2 with a 3.03 ERA in six postseason starts for the American League champions.
The 28-year-old lefty gives the ascending Padres an established ace at the front of the rotation as they attempt to catch the Dodgers in the NL West. San Diego is also working to finalize a deal for Chicago Cubs starter Yu Darvish, according to reports from ESPN, The Athletic and others.
“This team can play and we’re going to be chasing a World Series, which is obviously the most exciting piece to this whole thing,” Snell said.
With a young and talented team that features shortstop Fernando Tatís Jr. and third baseman Manny Machado, the Padres finished with the second-best record in the National League this year at 37-23 — six games behind Los Angeles — and made the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
San Diego’s injury-depleted rotation was in shambles when the postseason arrived, but the Padres managed to get past St. Louis in the first round before they were swept in three games by the Dodgers in the Division Series.
Mike Clevinger, acquired from Cleveland in August, isn’t expected back from Tommy John surgery until 2022, but the Padres have other quality starters in Dinelson Lamet, Zach Davies and Chris Paddack. Left-hander MacKenzie Gore is one of baseball’s top pitching prospects, the jewel of a deep farm system.
“They’re super exciting,” Snell said. “They’re a team that plays with a lot of fun. They’re swaggy and they can swing the bat.”
Snell pitched spectacularly into the sixth inning of World Series Game 6 against the Dodgers before manager Kevin Cash curiously pulled him after 73 pitches. The move backfired when Los Angeles rallied for a 3-1, Series-clinching victory. Snell’s final on-field moment in a Rays uniform will be him shaking his head after giving Cash the ball and beginning his walk to the dugout.
Among all left-handed starters in the majors last year, Snell ranked first in strikeout percentage (31%) and sixth in ERA.
“This acquisition is in line with our overall strategy to build a consistently winning ballclub for the great city of San Diego,” Padres owner Peter Seidler said. “I welcome Blake to the Padres and know he will enjoy playing for our enthusiastic and supportive fans in 2021 and beyond.”
Snell has three years and $39 million remaining on a $50 million, five-year contract he signed with the small-budget Rays in March 2019. He’s owed $10.5 million next year, $12.5 million in 2022 and $16 million in 2023.
Patiño may compete to take Snell’s vacated spot in Tampa Bay’s rotation in 2021. The 21-year-old from Colombia is among the top pitching prospects in baseball with a hard fastball and plus slider. He made his big league debut in 2020 with 10 relief appearances and one start, going 1-0 with a 5.19 ERA. He struck out 21 but walked 14 over 17 1/3 innings.
Wilcox is a 21-year-old who was taken in the third round of the 2020 draft from the University of Georgia. At 6-foot-5, Wilcox has shown outstanding stuff but has struggled at times with his control.
Mejía, 25, became San Diego’s primary catcher during the 2019 season, when he hit .265 with eight homers in 79 games. A left thumb injury limited him to 17 games in 2020. Mejía has been among the game’s most promising young catchers since making headlines with a 50-game hitting streak in the minor leagues, although questions remain about his defensive reliability.
Hunt is a 22-year-old who spent 2019 in Class A before the 2020 minor league season was wiped out by the coronavirus. He batted .255 with five homers in 89 games for the Fort Wayne TinCaps two seasons ago.
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