The San Diego Padres sent shockwaves when they acquired stud Blake Snell from the Tampa Bay Rays last night. Less than 24 hours later, they made another splash, acquiring dominant Yu Darvish and his personal catcher, Victor Caratini from the Chicago Cubs. You may think the Cubs return would be a huge haul headlined by top pitching prospect Mackenzie Gore. Nope, not even close. The only pitcher Chicago got back was an average pitcher in Zach Davies and a bunch of young outfield and infield prospects. For a team starved of pitching prospects, the Cubs got none back, and their return is a huge dud. This trade shakes up the MLB in so many ways, and here are my takeaways from the Yu Darvish blockbuster.
Payroll > Winning for the Cubs
Before the off-season began on the north side, there was already a ton of speculation that big moves were coming. And big changes did happen. Theo Epstein stepped down, Kyle Schwarber and Albert Almora Jr. were non-tendered, and now, Yu Darvish and Victor Caratini find themselves heading to San Diego. The Cubs were in a crunch with payroll, especially with the all the big contracts they have. After a crushing sweep at the hands of the Marlins in the Wild Card round, change needed to be made, but this drastic? The Cubs could easily still be contenders in the NL with a Darvish-led rotation. Apparently, Chicago is desperate to decrease payroll, and their moves are signifying that. But their chances of winning are getting slimmer and slimmer. The Cubs didn’t have to trade Darvish, but they chose to. It shows the type of direction they are prioritizing.
San Diego is All-In
The Padres are making moves, and they are making them to win-now. Acquiring both Darvish and Snell within a day of each other is incredible work by GM A.J. Preller. Furthermore, a lot of top prospects are heading to the Rays and Cubs, however, six of their top seven remain intact. That’s a huge win when you just acquired two CY Young caliber pitchers. Darvish, Snell, Lamet, Paddack, and a top pitching prospect to fill out the rotation is a scary sight for opposing offenses. Add in Mike Clevinger when healthy, and this rotation is going to bring HEAT. The Dodgers just got some stiff competition.
The Cubs May Not be Done
Could the Yu Darvish blockbuster signify more moves for the Cubs? It’s unclear whether they are going into a full rebuild, but this can’t be the only trade they are making this off-season to either shed payroll or add talent to their farm system. Tinkering between rebuild and contention is just a path that won’t work. Kris Bryant’s name has come up, but there’s nothing serious at the moment. Could Jed Hoyer kick the tires on his trade market or other member of the Cubs core? World Series Champs in 2016, the Cubs were thought to be a budding dynasty. However, early postseason exists, long offensive droughts, a depleted farm system, and limited spending ability have derailed the Cubs title window.
Pandemic? No Problem for Preller and the Padres
The MLB off-season has been very slow to start. Big names like Trevor Bauer, George Springer, and J.T. Realmuto still remain on the market. It is possible that the pandemic is causing organizations to rethink their spending habits because of no fans in the stands. It’s a huge loss for MLB teams both during games and for financials purposes. However, that hasn’t stopped the Padres from making moves to set themselves up for a championship run. Darvish and Snell aren’t the only new faces coming to San Diego. The Padres signed KBO star Ha-Seong-Kim. Kim blasted 30 home runs last season and will provide more pop to a lineup that already features Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado. The rest of the MLB is taking it slow this off-season, but the Padres are all gas, no brakes.
Cubs, Padres Swap Directions
It wasn’t long ago that the Cubs were completing their rebuild and competing for a championship. During that time, the Padres were rebuilding and adding young talent. Now, the directions have swapped for the teams as San Diego will easily be one of the favorites to win the World Series. On the other hand, after this Yu Darvish blockbuster, the Cubs might be headed towards a rebuild once again.