The San Diego Padres are busy upgrading for the 2021 season. The latest move has the Padres acquiring Yu Darvish from the Chicago Cubs.
A.J. Preller’s phone might be on the verge of melting right now. Last night he made a huge move when he acquired former Cy Young winner Blake Snell from the Rays. Then he signs the best prospect out of the KBO this morning. To top off this 24-hour period, he acquires yet another star, Yu Darvish.
According to AJ Cassavell, the Padres are receiving Darvish and Victor Caratini. In exchange, they are sending Zach Davies, Reginald Preciado, Owen Caissie, Ismael Mena, and Yeison Santana to the Cubs. The Cubs will be paying part of Darvish’s contract as a part of this trade and the deal is pending medical reviews.
Details on the trade, per sources:
Padres would get: Darvish, Caratini
Cubs would get: RHP Zach Davies, prospects Owen Caissie, Ismael Mena, Reginald Preciado, Yeison Santana
Full details first reported by @sdut. Deal isn’t final yet and still pending medicals.
— AJ Cassavell (@AJCassavell) December 29, 2020
Darvish is on as hot of a streak as it gets. He heated up in the second half of 2019 when he posted a 2.76 ERA, 13.00 K/9, and 0.77 BB/9. He kept it going in 2020 when he put up a 2.01 ERA, 11.01 K/9, and 1.66 BB/9. That 2020 performance saw him end as the runner up to Trevor Bauer in the Cy Young voting.
This 157.2 innings pitched streak is exactly what the Padres want to see out of the Darvish. He is at his peak right now and, for the first time in his career, seems to have his health in control. Obviously, Snell’s acquisitions and now Darvish happened because Mike Clevinger got Tommy John surgery, and Dinelson Lamet couldn’t pitch in the playoffs due to an injury.
Darvish also lights up the advanced analytics boards. Since 2017, his fastball spin rate has ranked in the 95th percentile every season. He consistently finishes in the top 80th percentiles or higher in whiff and strikeout percentages. Just look at his 2020 season board, in which he was among the best in so many categories.
Coming over with Darvish is his personal catcher Caratini. He fills a need beyond just being the catcher for Darvish. After Austin Allen, Austin Hedges, Luis Torrens, Francisco Mejia, and Blake Hunt all got traded away since the offseason of 2019, the Padres catching depth was lacking. Caratini and Austin Nola provide the Padres with a dependable catching core that will be around until at least 2024 when Caratini becomes a free agent (Nola is a free agent in 2026).
Caratini will serve as a good backup to Nola and the personal catcher to Darvish. In 2020 he batted a .241/.333/.328 with an 84 wRC+. He might not be a great bat but he was one of the top framing catchers in 2020. That will be able to play as a backup catcher.
For what the Padres are giving up a lot of their farm system depth. Going off the MLB.com rankings before the haul for Snell, in this trade, the Padres are losing their No. 11 (Preciado), 13 (Caissie), 15 (Mena), and 16 (Santana) prospects along with Davies.
Mena and Caissie are two left-handed outfield bats. They each have the potential the develop power in the future. Mena came from the 2019 international signing period, and Caissie was draft in the second round of the 2020 MLB Draft by the Padres.
Preciado and Santana are two young shortstop prospects. Preciado is 17 and was apart of the same signing class as Mena. Santana is 20 and came to the Padres in the 2017-18 international signing period. Preciado is the highest-ranked prospect to go among this group. He has elite switch-hitting ability gives him a really high upside.
With all four of these prospects, what made it easy to trade them away is how long it will take for them to develop. At best, Santana is projected to be MLB ready by 2023, with the rest projected for 2024. Darvish is a huge chip on a win-now team like the Padres are.
Davies is the last piece of the trade and the only MLB player San Diego is sending over. The Padres acquired him last season in a steal that also brought over Trent Grisham in exchange for Luis Urias and Eric Lauer. Davies then put a career-high in ERA (2.73), K/9 (8.18), and FIP (2.73). AJ Preller deserves credit for acquiring Davies then flipping him for an even bigger fish.
With this trade, the Cubs look to be rebuilding. They have Kris Bryant and Javy Baez approaching free agency. It’s doubtful that they will be able to sign both of them. This trade gives them a good crop of players coming up in a few years to work with.
As for the Padres, they answered two holes with this trade. They acquired an ace in Darvish and a backup catcher in Caratini. The Padres rotation is so strong now that Darvish might be considered their No. 2 pitcher even after the season that he just put up. Going into this season, the Padres are legitimate World Series contenders.