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End of an era: Snell traded to San Diego

Photo by Wayne Masut I The Scrum Sports Staff Photographer

First reported by Jeff Passen of ESPN, the Rays have agreed to trade Snell to San Diego in exchange for Mejia and three minor leaguers.

Last month, Marc Topkin wrote a piece that stated the Rays were open to trading Blake Snell and Kevin Kiermaier.

Late Sunday evening, the Tamp Bay Rays did just that as they sent former Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell to the San Diego Padres for Francisco Mejia, Luis Patino, Cole Wilcox and Blake Hunt.

This obviously has not gone over well with Rays fans after already losing Charlie Morton and being a few months removed from playing in the World Series.

And you know what? I get it. I really do. It was frustrating last offseason after losing in the ALDS and then trading Tommy Pham. You’d like to build off of the success from the prior season and try and further your success. Not trade one of your best hitter to save some money. It can be frustrating to watch, so I get the angry tweets and messages.

But – and there’s always a but – the Rays are smart. Very smart. Some would say the smartest in all of baseball. And they got a hell of a return in this Snell trade.

The return

Mejia, 25, is a switch hitting catcher. Once regarded as a top prospect, Mejia has struggled to find his rhythm at plate. In 128 career games, he is slashing .225/.282./.386. In 2019, his best season as a pro by far, he hit .265 with eight home runs and 22 RBI in 79 games. He has hit at every level of the minor leagues and I’m sure the Rays will unlock something with him like they always do.

Patino, 21, was ranked as the number 18 prospect in baseball according to Baseball America coming into 2020. Last year was his first cup of coffee in the majors. The right-hander logged 17.1 innings in his 11 appearances (one start) and sported a 5.19 ERA. In his 234 minor league innings, Patino recorded 271 strikeouts with a 2.35 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP. He averaged 97 MPH on his fastball this past season and there’s not denying that his stuff is beyond electric.

Wilcox, 21, is a right-handed pitcher that the Padres selected in the third round of the 2020 draft from the University of Georgia. Last season for the Bulldogs, Wilcox went 3-0 with a 1.96 ERA in four starts. He threw 23 innings and struck out 32 batters (12.5 K/9) with a 0.87 WHIP. His $3.3M signing bonus is the most ever paid to a third-round pick.

Hunt, 22, is a righthand hitting catcher. A second-round pick in the 2017 draft, Hunt has spent three seasons in the Padres minor league system, most recently in single-A in 2019. Over his 175 games, he has slashed .258/.341/.384 with 10 homers and 83 RBI.

All thee of the prospects the Rays received were in the top ten of the Padres very good system.

One last cap tip to Snell

One of the OG’s in the Rays organization. Snell, 28, signed a five year, $50 million deal early in 2019. With three years remaining, Snell is owed $10.5 million in 2020 and is still owed $39 million in total.

For a pitcher of Snell’s caliber, that seems like great value.

Snell put together the best pitching season in Rays history in 2018 when he went 21-5 with a 1.89 ERA. Those numbers were good enough to win the American League Cy Young Award.

It’s unfortunate that the last game Snell will have started for the Rays is Game 6 of the World Series, arguably his best performance in a Rays uniform – especially given what was on the line.

We wish Blake nothing but the best in San Diego! Hopefully he can improve on his golf swing out there!

Trust the Rays

Again, I know this one hurts. I know Snell was your favorite player. I know they traded your favorite players ten times before. But every time they trade that guy or don’t re-sign him, when have they really been wrong? Their system works. It just does.

Plus, just look at the way pitching has shifted into this crazy bullpen infatuation where starters are so limited. Since his surgery in July of 2019, Snell hasn’t completed six innings in any of his 21 starts.

Now that’s not to say Snell isn’t capable of going deep into games, because I think we all can agree that he can. But if the Rays aren’t going to maximize his abilities and use him as the work horse that he is – or can be – than they did the right thing in maximizing his value on the trade market. And a lot of people believe they did just that.

 

Don’t forget to follow me on twitter @EvansEric10 for all your Tamp Bay Rays updates. And don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel for some behind the scenes interviews!

 

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