You know that look on Snell’s face as he was being taken out of Game 6 of this year’s World Series? I think that’s the look on our collective faces as we watch the Rays dismantle what they’ve built, fresh off of a World Series appearance. Anyway, here’s the deal that sent their ace to San Diego, in exchange for four prospects:
The prospective deal that would send Blake Snell to San Diego would be centered around top pitching prospect Luis Patiño, sources tell ESPN. Also in the deal, as @dennistlin reported, would be catcher Francisco Mejia, pitcher Cole Wilcox and Blake Hunt, a young catcher.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 28, 2020
And look, no one is saying this isn’t a fair haul for Snell. Well, someone might be. But not me. The 21-year-old Luis Patiño is one of the most exciting pitching prospects in the game, ranked No. 10 among prospects per Fangraphs. He’s the centerpiece of this deal. And sure, he could wind up as a reliever. But aren’t all the Rays pitchers relievers, anyway? Seriously, does it matter what you call him if the Rays are just going to have bulk guys/openers/whatever? Patiño probably slots right into the Tampa rotation for 2021, one that will now be without Blake Snell and Charlie Morton.
Francisco Mejia is a worthy gamble to take, but the fit is a bit of a head-scratcher to me. For a Rays team that has allowed an offensively challenged but receiving/framing maven like Mike Zunino to clog up the catcher spot for a few years, it just makes no sense. In theory, Mejia’s potential impact with the bat still exists, as he’s still just 25 years old. But I can’t see Tampa making him their primary catcher, and offensively he’d have to clear a very high bar to be used in the DH role. In my personal catcher rankings I’ve moved Mejia up to No. 25, however, just based on a bit more of a chance to produce with Tampa. I personally wouldn’t be surprised to see Mejia traded once again...
Blake Hunt is a true catching prospect, a 22-year-old who slashed .255/.331/.381 at the Low-A level in 2019, and who spent 2020 at the Padres’ alternate training site. He’ll perhaps get a shot to wind up at the Double-A level in 2021, but we’ll have to see how it goes.
Cole Wilcox is an imposing right-handed pitcher, standing in at 6’5”. He’s a first-round talent from the 2020 draft and obviously finds a good landing spot with a Rays team that knows how to develop pitching. He’s a power arm that could wind up as a starter or as a high-leverage reliever.
The impact on San Diego is obvious. It’s a supremely talented roster that now gets a legitimate ace to bolster their rotation. 2021 looks very good, but 2022 looks amazing if Clevinger can return and with another year of seasoning for Gore:
Padres rotation 2021:— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 28, 2020
Padres rotation 2022
Which is also to say: San Diego can get even better using its rotation depth to make some other deals.
Honestly, I don’t think Snell’s ADP is going to shift much. He’s already a top 50ish pick, with a December ADP of 51.79 per the NFBC (Draft Champions). He’s got a min. pick of 41 and a max pick of 59 over that stretch of 14 drafts, and that seems pretty typical given that he’s in that second cluster of arms where drafters begin to really diverge with who they value as a second-tier ace type.
Mejia does become more of a viable catching option, but I still view him as a lower-end second catcher in two-catcher formats. It is undeniable that this is a better spot for him, though. He’ll have a chance to spell Zunino behind the plate and to get some time at DH.
In San Diego, I like Austin Nola even more. He won’t have to contend with Mejia’s alleged bat behind him. I view him as a top 10 catcher in 2020.
What about you, gamers? What did I miss? Thoughts on the Rays blowing up their World Series team?