Trade Scenario #2: Cubs pluck Blake Snell away from the Padresx
To be fair, Blake Snell hasn't been quite ace-caliber in a couple years, but he's also going to fly under the radar until you dig a little deeper on his numbers. This season, the left-hander recorded a 3.38 ERA with the San Diego Padres over the course of 128 innings. Part of the lower innings count was due to missing over a month with a left abductor strain. Diving deeper into the numbers, Snell was a little bit of a victim of bad luck, suggested by a stellar FIP of 2.80 which was better than this Cy Young-winning season, when he carried a 2.94 FIP as a member of the Rays.
He also recorded a fantastic 12.0 K/9, registering 171 punchouts during this 128 frames. Though Snell's name has been synonymous with his 2018 campaign in which he recorded a 21-5 record, the fact is he has been mostly up and down since. Part of that may be the scenery. In 2021, Snell recorded an underwhelming 4.20 ERA with a 3.82 FIP (suggesting his numbers could have easily still been above average.) It's also not every day you face the stiffest of competition in the 107-win Giants and 106-win Dodgers. Five of Snell's first seven starts that year came against the Dodgers and Giants.
It bodes fantastically for him (and the Cubs) to move to the NL Central where he'd see the Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers, who slashed just .222/.309/.365 against left-handed pitching this year. Of course, we have to keep in mind MLB moves to a balanced schedule in 2023, which means Chicago will see every other big league team during the regular season.
Contract wise, Snell is heading into the final go-round of a five-year deal and is set to make $16 million in 2023. For a Padres team that is deep at starting pitcher, shedding this salary to give AJ Preller some flexibility this offseason would be a big win. The Cubs could get a pitcher who has high upside in the NL Central and, like I said, the Padres free up salary to address their other needs. Trade value-wise, Snell's one year at $16 million shows fair value for prospects Reginald Preciado and DJ Herz.