The Padres are Going Crazy!

Drake Mann
MLB Analyst

“Adapt or die”-Moneyball

The Padres are officially winning the offseason at this point. While no other team has been active lately, it’s the Padres that have made three impact moves in a span of 48-hours. Two of the three deals include top of the rotation arms that’ll help not only in the short term but the long term as well.

Let’s BRKDWN all these moves, shall we?

Move #1:

Padres Acquire: Blake Snell

Rays Acquire: Luis Patino, Fransisco Mejia, Cole Wilcox, Blake Hunt

For the Padres:

The Padres have been looking for a frontline starter ever since right-hander Mike Clevinger had Tommy John Surgery which made him miss all of the 2021 season. Well, now they have Blake Snell. Snell is on a rather team-friendly contract as he’s owned $39 million over the last 3-years of his contract.

2020 resulted in Snell pitching to a 3.24 ERA (4.35 FIP), 31.0 K%, and a 1.20 WHIP in 50 innings pitched. On the other end, the Padres could be interested in Snell’s postseason numbers. In 35 innings pitched, Snell had a 2.83 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, and a 31.9 K%. The only major red flag with Snell is his health. He’s only thrown 150+ innings once in his career outside of the shortened 2020 season. However, if he’s healthy the Padres landed a top of the rotation arm that they have control over until 2023 which is exactly the Padres window of contention.

For the Rays:

The Rays acquire four players in return, three of the four being top prospects. The Rays main prize is right-handed starter Luis Patino, whowas ranked among the top-5 in the Padres system. The 21-year old has an elite fastball that touches triple digits and a nasty slider in the mid-’80s which has plus potential. He also displays a changeup in the low-90’s that’ll be an above-average offering in the end. While Patino is the full package and has frontline starter potential, the other right-handed pitcher traded might be a steal for the Rays.

Cole Wilcox had first-round hype around him as the 2020 draft neared but dropped to the third round due to signability issues. In terms of stuff, the analytically driven Rays are a dream spot for Wilcox who’s a control freak and has a nice fastball-slider combo with a devastating changeup that projects as a plus pitch. Wilcox could end up being the best piece of this deal for the Rays as his ceiling is at least of a mid-rotation starter due to his stuff and command.

The two catchers acquired, Francisco Mejia and Blake Hunt, both have some potential. For Mejia, he’s a former can’t miss catching prospect that hasn’t been able to stay healthy enough to showcase his talents. When healthy, he’s a switch-hitting catcher with plus arm strength and an above-average hit tool with 10-15 home run power. Hunt, on the other hand, is a defensive first catcher but has fared well in Padres instructs camp in 2020. He has some power in his bat and could also fare well with the analytically driven Rays, with how much technology they use to build better players.

While it is questionable that the Rays would trade their ace after a World Series trip, this package of prospects not only makes their farm system better but gives the Rays some flexibility with their players. Plus, the Rays save money in the process.

I’ll be in the minority here but this deal is a win-win. The Padres add to an already competitive team that’ll surely help them come playoff time, and the Rays keep getting richer with their prospect talent, acquiring some pieces that’ll help short and long term for the Rays.

Move #2

Padres sign Ha-Seong Kim to a 4-year $28 million deal

Kim was the biggest international prospect to sign from Korea. The 25-year old shortstop slashed .294/.373/.493 with 133 home runs and a .866 OPS throughout seven seasons in the Korean Baseball League. This is an interesting move as the Padres already have a loaded infield, headlined by Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr.

So what does this mean for the Padres? For starters just look at this lineup with 2020 wRC+:

Trent Grisham (121 wRC+)

Fernando Tatis Jr. (149 wRC+)

Manny Machado (148 wRC+)

Eric Hosmer (127 wRC+)

Wil Myers/Tommy Pham (154 wRC+, 78 wRC+)

Jake Cronenworth (125 wRC+)

Ha-Seong Kim (141 wRC+)

Austin Nola (126 wRC+)

That’s an impressively deep lineup that’ll not only give plenty of opportunity for their run producers but also provides a good mix of high on-base guys and stolen base threats.

I think the Padres make a salary dump trade in the coming weeks with either Wil Myers or Tommy Pham to be traded. This opens up a spot for Jake Cronenworth or someone else in the crowded infield of the Padres to get some time in either left or right field. Thus, finds room for Kim on the infield. While this move is risky, Kim has all the makings of being a good hitter at the major league level, and adding him surely makes the Padres a bigger threat in the NL West. This is one player to watch closely in the 2021 season.

Move #3

Padres Acquire: Yu Darvish and Victor Caratini

Cubs Acquire: Zach Davies, Reginald Preciado, Owen Cassie, Ismael Mena, Yeison Santana.

For the Padres:

They add their second ace starter in another blockbuster move but this time it’s Yu Darvish. This contract comes with considerable risk as he’s 34-years-old and is owed $59 million over the next three years of his contract. While it was looking like a bad contract for the Cubs, 2020 proved that Yu Darvish still is an elite pitcher even at his age. He pitched to an 8-3 record, 2.01 ERA (2.23 FIP), and a 31.3 K% in 76 innings pitched.

Here’s the projected starting rotation for 2021 and my personal projected 2022 starting rotation:

Projected 2021Starting RotationProjected 2022 Starting Rotation
Yu DarvishYu Darvish
Blake SnellBlake Snell
Dinelson LametMike Clevinger
Chris PaddackDinelson Lamet
Mackenzie GoreMackenzie Gore

These rotations are insane when completely healthy. The Padres also acquired Darvish’s personal catcher, Victor Carintini, who should be a serviceable backup to Austin Nola. Darvish could pitch like an ace yet again in 2021. This was another brilliant move by AJ Preller as it set up the Padres quite well and the fact he got two ace pitchers with only giving up one top-10 prospect is amazing to think about.

For the Cubs:

I’m going to be in the minority yet again, but the Cubs not only saved money by removing Darvish’s contract. While the prospects acquired may not be the highest-ranked, they all come with high ceilings and could become premier teenage prospects.

The most noticeable piece is right-handed pitcher Zach Davies, who was traded to the Padres in the Trent Grisham/Luis Urias swap. Davies had somewhat of a breakout year in 2020, pitching to a 2.83 ERA, 3.88 FIP, 41.3 GB%, and a career-high 22.8 K%. It’ll be interesting to see how the Cubs approach Davies in 2021, as he started throwing his changeup almost as much as his sinker in 2020 and this led to a strikeout increase.

The Prospects:

The four prospects in the deal are all 20-years-old or younger. The first prospect is shortstop Reginald Preciado, who’s only 17-years-old and has the potential for a plus hit tool and to hit for some power as he matures. While he is a switch-hitter, his swing looks smoother and more compact from the left side. Cassie meanwhile, is an 18-year-old outfielder and has some nice raw power. He will be a high slugging outfielder if he can start to better understand the strike zone better and limit the swing-and-miss with his bat.

The other two prospects are 18-year-old outfielder Ismael Mena who has plus-plus speed and some power potential, and Yeison Santana who’s a 20-year-old shortstop with a good hit tool and a great ability to not only get on-base but limit his strikeout rates and that alone could make him a valuable piece for the Cubs.

In the end, the Cubs could potentially end up winning this deal at some point, as they could flip Davies for more prospects (assuming they don’t resign him). The Cubs still have an underwhelming farm system but this move could propel them in the right direction . So far, the Cubs have been tormented by fans and the media alike in saying this is an obvious salary dump. I’m here to tell you, don’t sleep on any of the prospects acquired in this deal as all are talented enough to be starters for the Cubs long term. 

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