Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell is one of the best pitchers in baseball and is available via trade, according to one report. If true, the SF Giants are one of the most obvious destinations.
Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash’s decision to remove Blake Snell from Game 6 of the 2020 World Series has been the ire of baseball fans since it happened. Now, after MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand report that Tampa Bay is “open to trading” their ace, that could have been the final time Snell pitches in a Rays uniform. If he is indeed available, the SF Giants have to be considered one of his most likely trade destinations.
Since debuting with the Rays in 2016, Snell has emerged as one of the best starters in baseball. In 2018, Snell led the league with a 1.89 ERA over 180.2 innings pitched. He won the Cy Young and received his lone All-Star appearance that season. Over his career, Snell has struck out 648, walked just 232, and held opponents with a 3.24 ERA over 556 innings pitched.
Snell signed a long-term extension with Tampa Bay, but with three-years and $42 million left on the deal, the Rays front office may be looking to clear payroll. Still just 27-years old and on the heels of a strong 2020 campaign, Snell would immediately become the most desirable player on the trade market.
While Feinsand’s report mentions the Angels, Atlanta, and Mariners as the most likely destinations, it’s hard to see the Giants not emerging as a top contender. San Francisco’s rotation remains in need of at least one more trustworthy arm. Given their hopes to reach the postseason next season, they would be an obvious fit for Snell.
Their farm system may lack the firepower of Seattle’s, but ranks on par with Atlanta’s and far above the Angels. Furthermore, the Giants are considered one of the few teams expected to be willing to increase payroll this offseason.
Snell is a fantastic value on his current deal, but ownership groups remain skittish to commit anything to their payrolls as they address decreases in revenues and prepare for Collective Bargaining negotiations. Feinsand cites losses from the 2020 season as a motivating factor for Tampa Bay. If the Giants are willing to take on all of Snell’s contract, which should not be a problem, they have the pieces to make a compelling offer.
The Rays will obviously want a massive return for their ace. However, they also are coming off a World Series appearance. They will obviously target top prospects, but probably want to get pieces back they can see helping them relatively soon as well. The Giants have a deeper trough of controllable big-league talent to package with prospects that may help them top anything a prospect rich team like the Mariners could offer.
Coming off a World Series appearance, the Tampa Bay Rays still seem willing to drastically overhaul their roster. If Mark Feinsand’s report is accurate, and revenue declines are leading the team to shop ace Blake Snell, expect the SF Giants to be in aggressive pursuit.