What’s Next for Slam Diego?

By Dan Miccio

In the last week of 2020, San Diego Padres General Manager A.J. Preller has made blockbuster move after blockbuster move, including the trade for now former Tampa Bay Rays ace Blake Snell. The Padres received Snell in exchange for prospects, including LHP Luis Patino and switch-hitting catcher Francisco Mejia. Cole Wilcox was a selection by the Padres in last season’s draft and was also included in the deal.

Patino was the number 2 prospect in the Padres organization last year and made his Major League debut in the shortened season, making appearances out of the bullpen. Patino’s up and down season may have led the Padres front office to move him while his value was still high. Mejia was a prolific hitter in the minor leagues, but has not been able to sustain the same level of success since joining the Padres in 2018. There were concerns early on in his career about deficiencies behind the plate. Both of these players have fantastic upside and in the right organization may flourish.

This trade was not all too surprising, in that the Padres have made multiple trades recently with the Tampa Bay Rays. Notably, over two trades last offseason, INF Jake Cronenworth, LF Tommy Pham and RP Emilio Pagan were traded to San Diego for OF’s Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe, as well as a slew of prospects. The relationship between these organizations is important to look at because of the return for Snell, who is on a team friendly contract.

The Padres also made a massive move in acquiring SP Yu Darvish and C Victor Carantini from the Chicago Cubs. The Padres surrendered four of their prospects to Chicago, and SP Zach Davies. Davies was previously acquired in the previous offseason from Milwaukee in the trade for OF Trent Grisham, and Davies produced for the Padres during the regular season. While Davies does not throw the ball extremely hard, he has exceptional command of his pitches.

The acquisition of Darvish is noteworthy after the remarkable season he had in 2020, where he was a Cy Young finalist. Despite struggles early in his tenure as a Cub, Darvish was able to pitch at an elevated level and increase his value.

With this stacked rotation, the Padres are set up for at least the next two to three seasons in their rotation. However, A.J. Preller has work to do. With multiple All-Star relievers having expired contracts, the front office must look to either re-sign Kirby Yates and Trevor Rosenthal, or find replacements on the market. Also, Jurickson Profar, who played both LF and 2B last season, is being pursued by multiple teams. Profar could provide much needed depth to this lineup and give proper rest to Jake Cronenworth, Eric Hosmer and Tommy Pham, and with Pham’s recent stab wound, Profar would be a nice fit for the team and allow Pham to get much needed his rest he requires while recovering from his wound.

Ultimately, Preller needs to extend Fernando Tatis Jr. That needs to happen. Give Tatis the keys to the city for all I care but he needs to be locked up early like the Atlanta Braves did with Ronald Acuña Jr. El Niño is one of the future faces of baseball and would allow him to hit free agency in his early 30’s, while having made some good money early in his career.

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