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When the Blake Snell trade news broke last night, I turned to the Offseason Plan Project spreadsheet to see how many of our architects targeted him in their plans.
The answer was zero, which surprised me given how much time P.O. Sox and Twitter questions asked me to consider him.
Perhaps if the O.P.P. commenced after Game 6 of the World Series, when a dominant Snell was lifted after 5⅓ innings because he allowed a one-out single while holding a 1-0 lead, it probably would’ve been a different story. Snell, who won the Cy Young Award in 2018 and settled into an above-average starter mold since, expressed dissatisfaction with Kevin Cash’s decision. With Snell o the books for three years and $40.8 million — a reasonable total to just about every team besides Tampa Bay — that was enough to set the highly transactional Rays in motion.
Two months later, Snell is going to San Diego for a package of non-slapdick prospects.
- Padres receive: Blake Snell
- Rays receive: Luis Patiño, Francisco Mejía, Blake Hunt and Cole Wilcox
This is the kind of trade the White Sox’s lack of prospect depth makes difficult. Judge them by their place on Baseball America’s organizational top 10s, and the Padres traded their No. 3, 9 and 10 prospects. That’d be the equivalent of trading Nick Madrigal, Andrew Dalquist and Luis Gonzalez, which the White Sox should want to do every time.
If you use the Future Value system at FanGraphs, it’s a different story. The Padres traded a 60 in Patiño and a 50 in Hunt, whom Eric Longenhagen says will be a top-100 prospect when the 2021 list comes out. If Wilcox — the Padres’ overslot second round pick from 2020 — has a similar status of the White Sox’s overslot secound round pick from 2020, that makes the White Sox equivalent Andrew Vaughn, Michael Kopech/Madrigal and Jared Kelley. The Padres also kicked in Mejía, a former top prospect who hasn’t quite capitalized on his potential, yet has four years of control and addresses an immediate glaring need up top. Zack Collins doesn’t quite compare there, although Collins isn’t all that far behind.
The Padres gave up a lot, and the Rays seemed to extract themselves from a sticky situation fairly well. That said, the Padres can deal a Patiño because they’ll have more intriguing starters than rotation spots, especially when Mike Clevinger returns from Tommy John surgery. They can trade a promising young catcher like Hunt because they have a higher-ranked backstop in Luis Campusano blocking him. The trade could turn out to be a disaster, but they’re insulated from being shaking to their core.
The White Sox, conversely, are in a bit of a corner right now. They could stand to be more transactional to avoid a pile-up of like players, and they could have afforded Snell, but such a trade would have wiped out their reserves. And while the lesson of the widow’s offering suggests there’s virtue in giving up everything, Rick Hahn wouldn’t be able to count on his eternal reward to outweigh losing a deal Longenhagen likened to the Chris Archer trade.
Hahn ended up solving the same roster gap for a lower price by trading for Lance Lynn. Lynn commanded said lower price for real reasons — he’s a rental starter and 5½ years older — but if Lynn can meet expectations and warrant an extension, the White Sox might have solved the same issue for more than a season, just with some assembly required. The Sox have struggled to get that “meet expectations” part out of recent starter trades, be it Jeff Samardzija, James Shields, or Iván Nova. Thankfully, Dallas Keuchel proves that it’s not impossible for a veteran arm to immediately resemble his best self in a White Sox uniform.
Still, the Snell deal is a reminder that the White Sox could really use a robust minor-league season to attempt to restore their system depth. The pandemic caught everybody at a bad time, but the White Sox were hoping to use 2020 to recover from a 2019 that produced no new names to the rebuild, as either future fixtures or trade fodder (draft picks don’t count because every team has those). The good news is they’re talented enough to win during a compromised 2021, but I’d consider it slightly troubling that the White Sox rebuild never reached a Padres-like stage of “too many prospects” when they were hoarding them.
(Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire)