Padres acquire Blake Snell from Rays in blockbuster trade

The San Diego Padres have acquired Blake Snell from the Tampa Bay Rays in a blockbuster trade that brings four highly touted prospects back to Tampa. The Athletic’s Dennis Lin first reported the details Sunday night, and the deal was announced Tuesday.

Snell was last seen dominating the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 6 of the World Series before being pulled by Rays skipper Kevin Cash in one of the most controversial managerial decisions in recent memory.

He posted a 3.24 ERA across 50 innings in 11 starts in 2020. The 28-year-old lefty was even better in the postseason, pitching to a 3.03 ERA in another 29 2/3 innings as the Rays won their second AL pennant before bowing out to the Dodgers following Snell’s early exit in Game 6.

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell celebrates after fourth inning in Game 2 of the baseball World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Tampa Bay Rays starter Blake Snell was dominant in their run to the World Series in 2020, and will now join a star-studded Padres roster. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Padres are going for it

The 2018 AL Cy Young winner now joins a star-studded Padres team taking aim at title contention under general manager A.J. Preller.

Snell, who signed an extension prior to the 2019 season, has three years remaining on an eminently affordable deal. He’s the second big-ticket starting pitcher Preller has traded for this year, after Mike Clevinger came over at the trade deadline only to fall injured. He required Tommy John surgery and will miss the 2021 season.

Snell will join breakout star Dinelson Lamet, who finished fourth in NL Cy Young voting in 2020, atop the San Diego rotation. The lineup is anchored by budding superstar Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado.

The Padres made the postseason for the first time since 2006, racing back to win the NL wild-card series against the St. Louis Cardinals in dramatic fashion. Injuries decimated their pitching staff and eventually left them overmatched against the Dodgers in the NLDS.

Now, they will try their hand over a full season with even more proven arms, and are set up nicely for a window of contention.

Rays reload to defend AL pennant

The Rays continue their near-constant shuffling of pieces. In return for shipping their latest bright, established star out to San Diego, the Rays are getting four promising young players, headlined by potential rotation replacement Luis Patiño.

Coming off their World Series appearance, the Rays are now without two of their three dominant starters, having traded Snell and declined veteran Charlie Morton’s option, leaving him to sign with the Atlanta Braves.

The 21-year-old Patiño, however, got his first taste of the big leagues in 2020 and could contribute to Tampa’s pitching staff right away. Cole Wilcox, a 6-foot-5 righty who was just drafted in June, is further away from the majors but was already rated highly in the Padres’ stacked farm system.

Also going back to the Rays are two young catchers, Francisco Mejia and Blake Hunt. It’s the second blockbuster for Mejia, a one-time top prospect who is only 25. He was dealt from Cleveland to San Diego in exchange for closer Brad Hand and reliever Adam Cimber in July 2018.

The Rays re-signed catcher Mike Zunino to a one-year deal for 2021, but have playing time to offer if Mejia hits.

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