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SF Giants: Should They Have Traded for Blake Snell?

Oct 21, 2020; Arlington, Texas, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) delivers a pitch in the 5th inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game two of the 2020 World Series at Globe Life Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 21, 2020; Arlington, Texas, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) delivers a pitch in the 5th inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game two of the 2020 World Series at Globe Life Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
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Blake Snell, SF Giants
Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) fields a ground during the fifth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game six of the 2020 World Series at Globe Life Field. (Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports)

Why the SF Giants should have traded for Blake Snell

Right now, the SF Giants are continually “retooling” to compete the best they can at the major league level, as they have their eyes set on a playoff run in 2021—probably via a wild card spot. Blake Snell certainly could have made the Giants better in 2021.

Picture for a moment Snell starting for San Francisco in that all-too exciting Wild Card game a few months from now between the “exceeds expectations” Giants and the “we tried to tank the best we could but accidentally got here anyway” Chicago Cubs.

But the Giants are also trying to rebuild into a sustainable winner capable of competing with the Dodgers and Padres for division titles and World Series championships eventually. Snell, under contract for three more seasons, could’ve helped there too.

This rebuild towards sustainably winning is being propelled by one of the better farm systems in baseball—and it is still on the rise. The rebuild will be further aided by the many contracts coming off the books after 2021, allowing the Giants to be more aggressive in free agency.

And Zaidi’s goal and demonstrated skill for making “one good baseball move after another” could help make sustainable winning a reality sooner than many anticipate.

To any Giants fans calling for a twenty-year rebuild, let me remind you that the Padres went from losing 92 games in 2019 to being one of the best teams in baseball today. Considering the Giants’ own ascending farm system and deep pockets, it is not unreasonable to suggest that they could be threatening the Dodgers and Padres before Snell reaches free agency after 2023.

So, trading for Blake Snell certainly could have boosted their chances of toppling their division rivals in the next few years.

And, despite their strong farm system, the Giants don’t have a clear ace in the making. In fact, their minor league pitching depth, on the whole, is somewhat of a weak spot. Giants’ general manager Scott Harris even recently admitted to this in a discussion made available on Youtube with Zaidi, manager Gabe Kapler, and San Francisco’s first-rate announcers.

Snell could have potentially remedied this. He broke out as a bonafide ace in 2018 when he won the Cy Young award and topped baseball with a 1.89 ERA. Since then, he has struggled at times to reach his demonstrated ace-potential. He posted a 4.29 ERA in 2019 when he was limited to 107 innings due to elbow surgery.

Still, he rebounded closer to his 2018 level of success in MLB’s shortened 2020 season to the tune of a 3.24 ERA in 50 innings. And he certainly showed off his ace-potential in Game 6 of the 2020 Fall Classic when he silenced the Dodgers bats until his premature exit in the sixth inning.

Let former Rays starter Matt Moore remind us that nothing is guaranteed, regardless of former success. But I also wouldn’t bet against Snell’s chances of being a frontline rotation starter going forward because of his youth and track record.

So why trade for Snell? It is ultimately pretty simple:

Blake Snell could likely have been the Giants’ much-needed ace if they had traded for him, and even more importantly, he could have filled that role in San Francisco through 2023 in his age 28, 29, and 30 seasons.

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