Been a few big trades over the holidays, so it can’t hurt to take a quick jaunt around the league and update the lists for the teams involved.
On Sunday Night, Tampa Bay doubled down on its “decision” in game six of the World Series to pull its best pitcher after surrendering one hit in 73 pitches, selling that pitcher for minor league parts to a Padres squad with whom Blake Snell’s style should fit nicely. Might be weird for him to play for a human manager after working for TI-84 graphing calculators these past few years, but he’ll adjust.
It’s a ludicrous trade from most angles. Might be unprecedented in baseball history unless Charlie Finley’s 70’s A’s moved a young ace after a series out of spite.
RHP Luis Patiño, the biggest name among the Rays’ return package, has barely pitched above A ball (25 innings), but hey he threw hard that one time in the Future’s Game and threw hard again in his brief 2020 debut. I liked Patiño a few years ago as a growth asset in a dynasty league, but he has shown absolutely nothing compared to Snell, a Cy Young winner with a truly dominant 2018 season on the books who was making baseball’s best team look like little leaguers when last we saw him.
RHP Cole Wilcox, like Patiño, throws hard. He fell to the third round in the 2020 draft partly because he wanted money and had his junior college season waiting as leverage. He dominated in four starts as a Sophomore, but that was in non-conference play before the shutdown, and he wasn’t great as a Freshman (1.408 WHIP in 59.2 innings), which doesn’t mean a whole lot but is the biggest sample we have.
C Francisco Mejia is only good at one thing: hitting pitches in the strike zone. He doesn’t play defense. He doesn’t take pitches. He doesn’t recognize spin. He doesn’t have much power. Oh, my bad, he also throws balls hard, assuming he’s caught the ball and is ready to throw when the time comes. He still has plus hand-eye coordination in the batter’s box and good bat speed, though his swing has gotten foolishly long. Lots to fix here but good base hitting talent if Tampa can extract it.
C Blake Hunt added a little torque and power this season, which should pair well with his solid contact rates and plus defensive upside behind the plate.
An ace for spare parts.
It happens sometimes when someone’s got a lot of spare parts to sell.
Especially if the team with the ace doesn’t want him around anymore.
Anyway by midday Monday, I was losing my shizz and tweeted that I thought Cubs were about to be anchored into taking less than Tampa, whose return looked light because they like it that way—multiple outs with upside. It’s tough to pound the table for a CJ Abrams when selling Darvish after the other team just acquired an arguably better asset for less than that.
I mean Twitter always takes minutes off my life, but Monday was bad. Almost as bad as Tuesday.
Cubs fan: If they don’t get Gore in this …
Padres fan: Not happening.
Which, why the eff not? If Gore is so good, why didn’t he come up last year? Literally every public-facing prospect source wants to know. Nobody will say why he didn’t pitch last year, yet he’s somehow untouchable in trades.
Teams with elite big league assets need to stop accepting at face value that they can’t have the big-named prospects. No Gore? Okay, Abrams. No Abrams? Okay, goodbye. We will retain the superstar. You can retain the children you have now.
I know it’s not that simple because Ricketts, and most ownership groups, are venture capitalists masquerading as fanboys. Or just straight cold carpet baggers making no explanation except ‘because capitalism.’
Darvish is not worth 60 million dollars, according to countless Twitterers these past few days.
Worth 60 million to whom?
He’s definitely not worth that to me.
I don’t have a baseball team.
Or 60 dollars, let alone 60 million.
But in a market that values a player of his caliber at much more than the 59 point whatever million dollars he was owed, he’s well worth that bargain salary to a multi-billion dollar baseball team that benefits enormously from his excellence.
To like this Yu Darvish trade for the Cubs is to totally disregard that time is real and that Major League Baseball is incredibly hard—a profession only accessible to even the best in the world for a brief human window. Darvish is inside that window now at a tasty rate.
I guess it should be said Davies and even Caratini are inside that window now, as well.
The other four players have potential, but the Cubs just traded SS Pedro Martinez to Tampa to complete the Jose Martinez trade, and I like infield Pedro Martinez more than all but Preciado among these players. They put him on a player to be named list to acquire 22 hitless at bats of Jose Martinez. So they picked up four guys who are about that valuable for Darvish, from a certain point of view.
SS Reggie Preciado is talented enough to make a run at that elite-baseball-human window. Could become a plus hit, plus power third baseman or maybe even a shortstop depending on the switch-hitter’s 6’4” frame. Deal hinges on him, in my opinion.
SS Yeison Santana is 5’11” and smooth enough defensively to remain up the middle. If it isn’t Preciado to save this deal, I think it’ll be Santana, who is the furthest along among this crew because he has reached *checks notes* stateside rookie ball in Arizona. Played 41 games there. Most experienced prospect the Cubs got back.
OF Ismael Mena got big money (2.2 million) in the 2019 international class but swings like he’s moving in slow motion. Long way to go before he can keep up with velocity of any kind. I’m expecting some tough statistical seasons.
OF Owen Caissie was the top Canadian selected in the 2020 draft. Hasn’t played a whole lot. Mostly big power over questionable hit corner outfield type. Huzzah.
Hey I realize this could look genius in a half decade. I don’t debate that. Maybe Mena will be good. Maybe Preciado will be Corey Seager and Owen Caissie will be Joe Mauer, like someone told me on Twitter. Maybe someone will still care at that point a half decade from now when that happens and the Ricketts are charging 95 bucks for a parking spot because they own that part of town and sold Yu Darvish for parts to pay off a fraction of the cost.
Part of my frustration here is just that hitting a baseball is difficult. Like, if I threw one to you right now, I wonder if you could hit it. I’m 37-years-old and haven’t thrown a baseball in half a decade, I think, and yet, I’ll bet I could strike you out, dear reader. And I was an outfielder. And maybe I couldn’t. I dunno maybe you’d smash a line drive right off my face and make a mess of the whole ordeal. Point I’m trying to make is that it’s a bold leap to watch a teenager and think he can hit a big league fastball someday, let alone a breaking ball, let alone identify the difference between the two and make the right decision in that fraction of a second that matters. It happens a lot, I realize. That’s what scouting is all about, to a certain extent, but it’s all relative. When the cost is 2.2 million dollars of one year’s international budget, sure, let’s take a flier on that. When the cost is a top five pitcher in major league baseball, let’s pump the brakes a bit and find out if these kids can hit for a few months first.
Anyway here’s the updated lists.
Probably should’ve spliced ’em in. Might do that later when I’m less tingly and irritated. Or not. Let me know which way I should’ve gone. Maybe. If you’re nice about it. I am very tired.
Read one Twitter guy saying anyone who doesn’t like the trade is racist and/or stupid.
The knots we humans can tie ourselves trying to make sense of existence, am I right?
To the lists:
Rays New Top Ten
1. SS Wander Franco | 20 | A+ | Late 2021
2. OF Randy Arozarena | 26 | MLB | 2019
3. 2B Vidal Brujan | 23 | AA | Late 2021
4. C 1B OF Heriberto Hernandez
5. RHP Luis Patiño | 21 | MLB | 2020
6. LHP Brendan McKay | 25 | MLB | 2019
7. SS Xavier Edwards | 21 | A+ | 2022
8. SS Greg Jones | 23 | A- | 2023
9. RHP Joe Ryan | 24 | AA | 2021
10. OF Josh Lowe | 23 | AA | 2022
Padres New Top Ten
1. SS C.J. Abrams | 20 | A | 2023
2. LHP MacKenzie Gore | 22 | AA | 2021
3. SS Ha-Seong Kim | 25 | KBO | 2021
4. C Luis Campusano | 22 | MLB | 2020
5. OF Robert Hassell III | 19 | HS | 2025
6. LHP Ryan Weathers | 21 | MLB | 2020
7. OF Hudson Head | 19 | R | 2024
8. LHP Adrian Morejon | 22 | MLB | 2019
9. OF Jorge Oña | 24 | MLB | 2020
10. 2B Tucupita Marcano| 21 | A | 2024
Cubs New Top Ten
1. OF Brennen Davis | 21 | A | 2022
2. LHP Brailyn Marquez | 21 | MLB | 2020
3. SS Ed Howard | 19 | NA | 2024
4. SS Reggie Preciado | 17 | NA | 2025
5. C Miguel Amaya | 22 | A+ | 2021
6. RHP Adbert Alzolay | 26 | MLB | 2020
7. RHP Cory Abbott | 25 | AA | 2020
8. SS Yeison Santana | 20 | R Az | 2024
9. SS Christopher Morel | 21 | A | 2023
10. SS Luis Verdugo | 20 | MXPW | 2024
Thanks for reading.
I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.