As the budget-conscious Tampa Bay Rays consider trading Blake Snell, here are 5 dark horse destinations for the 2018 American League Cy Young winner.
The Tampa Bay Rays are coming off an AL pennant, but their situation always dictates being what could kindly be called “cost-aware.” Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times started with the idea the team could look lot different in 2021, and on Monday Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reported the Rays have let teams know they are open to trading Blake Snell.
Feinsand noted the Rays are not actively shopping Snell, but a short 2020 season with no fans in stadiums has surely tightened their financial leeway even more than usual.
Snell had a 3.24 ERA (4.35 FIP, a 11.3 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 over 11 regular-season starts in 2020 (50 innings). His usage in the postseason became an object of controversy, coming to a head in Game 6 of the World Series when he was visibly upset at manager Kevin Cash’s decision to pull him despite the fact the Dodgers’ lineup was hardly touching him. In the postseason, Snell had a 3.03 ERA with 37 strikeouts over 29.2 innings (six starts).
Snell won the AL Cy Young Award in 2018 when he led the league in ERA (1.89) with a major league-high 21 wins. The Rays rewarded him with a five-year, $50 million deal, but it was a significantly backloaded contract that essentially bought out his arbitration years and has three years and $39 million left on it now. Snell is slated to make $10.5 million in 2021, $12.5 million in 2022 and $16 million in 2023.
Skeptics might point to Snell’s FIP during the regular season being over a run more than his ERA as a red flag. But he also had a career-best 49.1 percent ground ball rate, and his average fastball velocity was 95.5 MPH (four-seamer).
Snell will turn 28 early next month, with an appealing contract. Behind Trevor Bauer, and with Charlie Morton now signed, the left-hander would be an upgrade over any other free-agent starter.
There are a few easily tabbed trade destinations for Snell, but here are 5 teams that could swoop in and get him.
5 dark horse trade destinations for Blake Snell
5. New York Yankees
The Yankees may have a refurbished starting rotation next year, with Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton and J.A. Happ as free agents. Luis Severino (Tommy John surgery) and Domingo German (suspension) will be back next year, but Severino has hardly pitched in the last two seasons due to arm injuries and German is hardly a guarantee to secure a rotation spot. At this point, it’s Gerrit Cole and a bunch of questions.
The idea of signing Trevor Bauer is interesting, but the Yankees may not be inclined to spend big in free agency. A trade for Snell would come far more affordably, apart from the cost in players and prospects.