There is no easy way to put this as a Rockies fan, so let’s just rip off the band-aid: Blake Snell and Yu Darvish play for the Padres now.
News broke early Monday morning that Snell, the 2018 American League Cy Young winner, was joining the National League West. News broke Monday evening that four-time All-Star (and two-time Cy Young runner-up) Yu Darvish was joining him. The acquisitions come just months after the Padres made a huge competitive statement at the 2020 trade deadline, sparing no expense for premier talent. San Diego lost to the Dodgers in the NLDS, but their persistent spending habits suggest they will remain a furious force—and possibly take the divisional crown from those same Dodgers.
The Rays have taken a completely different approach: they have entered some sort of rebuild just weeks after making it to the World Series. Tampa Bay’s return in the Snell deal was described by FanGraphs as “a king’s ransom,” and their deep farm system has been equally praised.
We already know the Rays have a tremendous analytical presence, given their lineage of successful executives. What can we learn from such a groundbreaking, against-the-grain move?
A combination of factors could have contributed to Snell’s departure, unlike prior moves. Maybe it was ill feelings after Snell was pulled in the 6th inning of the decisive World Series Game 6. Perhaps it was a classic means for Tampa Bay to keep their overhead low and their win total high with inexpensive prospects. Maybe it was just a cyclical process in which the Rays can play without the long-term cost of going all in.
There has to be some lessons to learn in Colorado. It is hard to question a team like the Rays when they have done so much with so little. If the AL pennant winner ships off their ace in a competitive move, what are the Rockies left to do when the divisional odds point heavily to Southern California?
The Rockies’ analytics department was “gutted” in recent weeks, so now may be a bad time to make serious moves. A copycat move to the Snell trade could at least give the Rockies a commendable return while two divisional favorites dominate the landscape. The Rays have also shown their hand for what qualifies as a ‘good’ deal for a top player, and their return is nothing short of impressive:
Tampa Bay's return:— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 28, 2020
Luis Patiño: Sits 97, T100, wipeout slider
Francisco Mejia: Buying low on a former top 10 prospect at a position of need
Cole Wilcox: Got $3.3M this year as a third rounder with clear first-round talent and upside
Blake Hunt: See below. https://t.co/h7dIhlf8SE
Los Angeles and San Diego combined for 80 regular season wins in 2020, which accounted for exactly 50 percent of the wins in the five-team NL West. The Dodgers and Padres are heavily favored again in 2021; it won’t be fun taking on those guys, but it means big names and quality baseball for NL West rivals. Rockies fans will get to see two of the best pitchers in baseball on a routine basis. The first starts in Colorado for both Snell and Darvish will make for an understandably hot ticket, assuming fans can be there.
Padres right-hander Mike Clevinger underwent Tommy John surgery just a few weeks ago, so San Diego was entering 2021 without their anticipated rotation. Snell and Darvish join Dinelson Lamet, the fourth-place finisher in NL Cy Young voting this year, to bolster a Padres’ 3.46 ERA in 2020. That mark was already good enough for the third best in baseball, and Clevinger’s imminent return will look to further strengthen the staff in 2022.
(More food for thought: Clevinger is just weeks into Tommy John rehab and will miss all of 2021. After his interesting departure out of Cleveland and the lengthy, hellacious rehab ahead, how is he left to feel with two aces coming to town?)
In short: congratulations to the San Diego Padres for pulling the string. They have pulled off some electrifying deals in some unprecedented times. The team went from 2007-2019 without a playoff game, and the end of their streak has come with loads of excitement for their fans.
As for Rockies fans, we search for such excitement in Denver. The ‘competitive window’ may have closed a little bit more on Monday, but a window can always open again.
The question becomes simple: How long until it opens wide?
Should the Rockies enter a rebuilding phase?
This poll is closed
Yes — and a ‘yes’ before the Snell/Darvish deals
Yes — but a ‘no’ before the Snell/Darvish deals