SAN DIEGO — What Padres’ General Manager A.J. Preller and his scouting team have done the past two years is nothing short of brilliant. So much so, the Friar Faithful can look forward to cheering on one of the favorites to win the World Series 2021.
Yes, it has been Preller wheeling and dealing away a cache of prospective chips in exchange for proven Major League talent. But it’s been the scouts across the country and in Latin America constantly restocking the shelves long before they get even close to bare. In fact, with all the moves Preller has made to turn the Padres into a winner, the most prized minor leaguers like lefty McKenzie Gore and C.J. Abrams are still in the system and are creeping closer to their eventual big-league debuts.
On Tuesday, the Padres officially announced the first of two blockbuster deals that will transform their starting rotation.
2018 Cy Young Award winner, Blake Snell is coming to San Diego via Tampa Bay. Snell is one of baseball’s best lefties and had the Dodgers baffled in October’s World Series. In exchange, the Padres are sending the Rays four prospects including catcher Francisco Mejia and flame-thrower Luis Patino.
“This acquisition is in line with our overall strategy to build a consistently winning ballclub for the great city of San Diego,” said Padres Owner and Chairman Peter Seidler. “I welcome Blake to the Padres and know he will enjoy playing for our enthusiastic and supportive fans in 2021 and beyond.”
During his introductory press conference on Tuesday, Snell talked about his new team saying, "It's hard not to be excited. This team is lights out. This team can play. We're going to be chasing a World Series."
That deal alone would be a big off-season win for Preller, but he was just warming up.
The Chicago Cubs are in re-building mode and Preller took full advantage, offering a stockpile of young talent but no prospect ranked above 11 in the Padres system. According to multiple reports, in a 7-player trade, San Diego will acquire right-hander Yu Darvish who is coming off one of the best of his eight major league seasons in 2020. Darvish finished 2nd in the N.L. Cy Young Award voting with a 2.01 ERA through 76 innings. Darvish will join the rotation with Snell, Dinelson Lamet, and Chris Paddack rounding out the top 4. Mike Clevenger will return from Tommy John surgery and join them in 2022. It is potentially the best rotation the Padres have ever had.
To top off the December craziness the Padres also signed Ha-seong Kim from the Korean Baseball Organization. The 24-year-old infielder hit .294 in his six years playing professionally in Korea. Some people close to the organization think Kim will slot into second base with Jake Cronenworth moving to the outfield.
The moves have all of baseball talking about the Padres and even Vegas is taking notice. The Dodgers still may be the favorites to win it all again in 2021, but suddenly the Friars are 3rd on some boards, just behind the Yankees, at 8 to 1. Yes, the baseball season is still a long way off, but here we are in December, excited for what could very well be a season like none we’ve ever seen.