It could be an understatement to say Blake Snell’s free company has moved at a snail’s tempo.
Represented by Scott Boras, Snell is apparently after a nine-year deal nearing the $300 million mark. The Yankees, Mets, Giants and Cubs have all persistently been linked with Snell. Signing Marcus Stroman seemingly took the Yankees out of the sweepstakes, nevertheless, and it’s unclear if a deal would make a lot sense for the Mets.
San Francisco continues to be trying to find their big-name free agent acquisition. There’s extra space on the pitching workers after Ross Stripling was traded away. However little about Farhan Zaidi’s reign suggests they are going to stump up what Boras is demanding.
The Cubs have a necessity within the rotation, too. With Stroman gone and Cody Bellinger nonetheless available on the market, although, does Chicago wish to decide to Snell when they may not be a contender subsequent yr?
So, the brief reply to Snell nonetheless being a free agent is a scarcity of suitors and a sky-high asking price. Offers for Shohei Ohtani, Yoshinobu Yamamoto and others in recent times present groups are prepared to pay big bucks for free agents. Snell doesn’t appear to be garnering the identical consideration as a free agent – why is that?
Complicated observe file
Solely seven pitchers have gained the Cy Younger in each leagues. Snell is considered one of them, alongside all-time greats Max Scherzer, Roger Clemens, Roy Halladay, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and Gaylord Perry.
Snell’s profession is extra difficult than the opposite names listed. They had been perennial Cy Younger contenders. Snell has not acquired a Cy Younger vote outdoors of his two years profitable the award.
That displays the vary of outcomes with Snell all through his profession and going ahead. He simply led the Majors in ERA, simply as he led the American League in ERA in 2018. He’s twice led the massive leagues in hits per 9.
Between his Cy Younger-winning campaigns, Snell had a 3.85 ERA over 413.2 innings. He was a bit higher than a league common pitcher over that interval, however not by a lot.
Different aces can compensate for a down yr by consuming innings. Sure, that is much less of an element than it was even half a decade in the past, however Snell’s innings totals are sure to be on the minds of entrance places of work.
He has reached the 180-inning mark simply twice (his two Cy Younger years). He pitched 107 in 2019, 128.2 in 2021 and 128 in 2022.
For the reason that begin of 2018, 29 pitchers have thrown extra innings than Snell. His 17.8 fWAR over that interval is 12th amongst pitchers with over 700 innings. Solely future Corridor of Famers Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw, Scherzer and Gerrit Cole can higher Snell’s ERA.
High quality versus amount
Snell’s free company represents so many baseball conversations within the 2020s. Even with some not-so-great years between 2019 and 2022, Snell ranks among the many sport’s actually elite arms during the last six seasons.
Nonetheless, he’s heading into his age-31 season, and it’s not like he’s going to pitch extra innings as he ages. His management points are a part of the rationale he leaves video games early – he’s bought the best walks per 9 amongst pitchers with 700+ innings for the reason that begin of 2018.
The strikeout stuff (which additionally drives up his pitch depend) is what makes Snell such a tantalizing prospect for whichever staff wins the bidding. He was 98th percentile in whiff fee and 94th percentile in strikeout fee final season. He has struck out 30.9% of hitters or higher in every of the final six seasons.
Saga should come to an finish
Somebody has to signal Snell earlier than Opening Day. The difficulty is, the asking value is in Yamamoto territory. It doesn’t appear unreasonable for a two-time Cy Younger winner, however that ignores issues about workload, command and inconsistent efficiency.
In some methods, Snell’s profile is much like Kevin Gausman and Robbie Ray, who just lately acquired free agent offers of $110 million and $115 million respectively. Snell has an extended observe file of success, however each Gausman and Ray hit the market off distinctive stroll years.
Gausman has been wonderful for the Blue Jays. Ray was a disappointment in Seattle, bought injured, and was traded to the Giants this offseason. Snell is in all probability a greater pitcher than Gausman, but it surely’s straightforward to see why entrance places of work could be cautious about paying Snell $30 million per season into his late thirties.
Maybe this ends with a short-term, high-AAV contract. That would appear like a threat for Snell how his manufacturing has fluctuated all through his profession.
As an alternative, the most definitely final result sees this conclude with a contract within the $180 million vary full of choose outs.