With Yoshinobu Yamamoto officially off of the board, the attention now turns to two-time Cy Young winner Blake Snell. The Giants will likely pivot to him as several MLB insiders have speculated and market size might be why they could have an edge in his bidding.
Why the SF Giants might have an edge in the Blake Snell sweepstakes
Most of the big-market teams were involved in on Yamamoto. This includes teams like the New York Yankees, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Boston Red Sox, and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers will look to add one more starting pitcher this winter, but not in Snell's price range. In fact, they have not been connected to the veteran pitcher at all.
I believe the Mets, Red Sox, and Phillies were involved in Yamamoto due to the unique nature of his free agency. It is not often that one of the best pitchers on the planet becomes a free agent after his age-24 season, but that was the case with Yamamoto. Age was a significant factor in why he was able to land a 12-year, $325 million pact with the Dodgers.
Their interest at that level of the market felt specific to Yamamoto. By that, I mean that they likely look to add a pitcher but not in Snell's price range. The Mets have substantial payroll obligations to starting pitchers both on the team and with other teams. It is hard to envision them pivoting back into aggressive spending after they went through a bit of a teardown last season. Plus, the Phillies and Atlanta Braves are seemingly ahead of them in the NL East.
The Phillies could add another starter. They currently have about $66 million tied up to Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, and Taijuan Walker next season. They also have Ranger Suárez and Cristopher Sánchez under contract for next season. Starting pitching does not feel like a need and if they dip into that market, I would not expect it to be anything more than a mid-rotation arm.
The Yankees will likely look to add at least one more starter. They are a threat to sign someone like Snell. There have not been many connections between them and the 31-year-old pitcher, but that could just be due to New York's focus on Yamamoto. On a similar note, they had Jordan Montgomery for the first six seasons of his career. A reunion makes sense on paper.
The rest of the market resides on the West Coast with the Giants, Los Angeles Angels, and Seattle Mariners. There is a belief that Snell would prefer to remain on the West Coast, but with Scott Boras as his agent, the money will talk louder than any non-financial quality.
Of course, Snell grew up in the state of Washington. There is an obvious connection there that will continue to persist until he signs one way or the other. However, the Mariners do not feel like a team that is looking to add much salary. Their payroll should increase for 2024, but that will be due in part to arbitration raises. They even sent Eugenio Suárez to the Arizona Diamondbacks in an odd move and payroll could have been part of the equation.
That leaves the Giants, Angels, and possibly the Yankees, but I just do not believe they are as desperate as the first two teams. That is an oddly small market for someone as accomplished as Snell is. For example, nearly half of the league checked in on Seth Lugo, but that will not be the case with Snell. Most teams cannot afford the lefty starter. That is their choice.
The Angels have made Snell their top priority according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. I suppose that could be the case. They could use a reliable starting pitcher probably more than the Giants need star power.
That said, it feels like a hard sell for Snell and his representatives. The Angels had two of the best players in baseball on their team in 2023 and managed to win just 73 games. The AL West consists of teams like the Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers who won the World Series in 2022 and 2023, respectively. Are the Angels one Snell away from competing in 2024?
That is a tough vision to sell and one the Giants need to leverage if they are intent on landing the eight-year veteran. They won 78 games in 2023 and missed the playoffs after the team collapsed in the final two months of the year. They are much closer to being one Snell away than the current iteration of the Angels without Shohei Ohtani.
Plus, Snell has a sense of familiarity with the organization. Most of Bob Melvin's coaching staff was in San Diego for the past two years. This includes pitching coach Bryan Price.
Snell's market feels similar to the Carlos Correa sweepstakes from last offseason. The Giants won the bidding in part because many of the big-market teams were not involved in Correa's market. Though, we know how that fiasco turned out. If it is the Giants against the Angels, I have a hard time believing that the latter would win the bidding.
As bad as the Giants have been over the past five years, the Angels have been even worse. They have not made the playoffs since 2014. The Giants can at least hang their hat on the fact that they have been to the postseason twice since 2015. In a bidding war between two franchises with plenty of flaws, the Giants might just be the better-looking third wheel.
It is up to the front office and ownership to get out of their comfort zone and take risks again. If the Giants want Snell, the oddly small market might be in their favor.