The San Diego Padres aren’t joking around about contending in 2021.
According to reports, the Chicago Cubs are set to trade righty starter Yu Darvish to the Padres in a seven-player deal that ships starter Zach Davies and four prospects to Chicago. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports the deal is “on the verge.”
The Cubs are also sending catcher Victor Caratini to San Diego in the deal. The 27-year-old has played three years with the Cubs, but notably was Darvish’s personal catcher last season in Chicago.
Cubs-Padres deal will be Yu Darvish and Victor Caratini to SD for Zach Davies, SS Reginald Preciado, OF Owen Caissie, OF Ismael Mena and SS Yeison Santana, per source.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) December 29, 2020
In return, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports the Cubs will add SS Reginald Preciado, OF Owen Caissie, OF Ismael Mena and SS Yeison Santana, none of whom ranked among the top 10 prospects in San Diego’s stacked system.
If the Padres’ reported trade for former AL Cy Young winner Blake Snell was a blockbuster, the trade for Darvish is a stunner. They acquired Snell from the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday night, sending four prospects to Tampa in the deal. With the ink barely dry on that trade, it seemed unlikely that the Padres would trade for another top-tier pitcher at all, let alone the very next day.
But with so many teams looking for ways to shed payroll in 2021 instead of focusing on contending, the Padres apparently decided to take advantage and go all in. Cubs owner Tom Ricketts called the losses MLB owners sustained in 2020 “biblical.”
Darvish adds experience to Padres rotation
Darvish, 34, signed a six-year, $126 million contract with the Cubs before the 2018 season. He made his MLB debut with the Texas Rangers in 2012. Padres GM A.J. Preller, notably, worked in the Rangers front office in 2012 and was a key player in scouting and signing Darvish when he came to America.
He was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in July of 2017, and helped them make it to the World Series that year, then famously lost to the Houston Astros team that was later tarnished by the sign-stealing scandal. His Game 7 loss was scrutinized and later recast by the scandal.
Darvish had struggled with his command in recent years, especially in his first season with the Cubs, but looked fantastic during the 2020 shortened season. In 12 starts over 76 innings he had a 2.01 ERA with just 14 walks and 93 strikeouts.
Sliding in on top of the Padres rotation, he will anchor a group suddenly set to include Snell (a Cy Young winner in 2018), breakout star Dinelson Lamet (fourth in NL voting in 2020) and Chris Paddack (second in Rookie of the Year voting in 2019 before slumping in 2020). The last spot could soon be occupied by the game’s top pitching prospect, MacKenzie Gore.
Cubs add Davies, four prospects
The Cubs’ haul for Darvish will include a new starter to plug into the rotation. Zach Davies, a diminutive right-hander who pitched for the division rival Milwaukee Brewers until last year, is a changeup artist with quite a few stylistic similarities to Cubs mainstay Kyle Hendricks. He had his best year in the majors with the Padres, posting a 2.73 ERA across 12 starts and striking out a career-best 22.8 percent of the batters he faced.
Preciado, a 17-year-old shortstop prospect, ranks highest of the four prospects heading back to Chicago per MLB Pipeline. All four boast high potential, but they aren’t close to contributing in the big leagues. Caissie, an 18-year-old outfielder, was just taken in the second round of June’s draft.
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