Another big splash, as A.J. Preller and the San Diego Padres have acquired Yu Darvish and catcher Victor Caratini from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for RHP Zach Davies and four prospects in Reginald Preciado, Yeison Santana, Owen Cassie and Ismal Mena in return from San Diego. More to come on this in a minute as details come in.
Darvish is coming off an outstanding 2020 season with the Chicago Cubs finishing second in CY Young voting and 14th in the NL MVP voting as well. He posted a ridiculous 2.01 ERA, 221 ERA+, 2.23 FIP (best in baseball) and 0.96 WHIP. Darvish was one of the bigger gets on the pitching market, along with Snell, and the Padres did not have to give up A SINGLE one of their top ten prospects to get him. Also coming in the package is Victor Caratini, who I have misspelled his name already six times since first writing this article. The 27 year old catcher has had limited success in his limited playing time, unable to get regular playing time behind Wilson Contreras on the Cubs. Caratini has managed a .250/.327/.372 line with a .699 OPS in his career, and on the defensive side is a good framing catcher, totaling +2 Runs Extra Strikes in 2020, but ranked 66th out of 78 eligible catchers in pop time at 2.08 and 61st in arm strength at 79.0 MPH
So it does appear that the Cubs are deciding to rebuild in fact, as Darvish represents one of their larger trade chips along with Kris Bryant. Which is disappointing to see, because of their talent on the roster, but I guess their ownership saw their window to win was closed. Returning the Cubs is honestly an underwhelming package. Zach Davies is a great piece, but he does not exactly fit what the Cubs are aiming for, as he is entering his prime years and coming off a season with San Diego that saw him post a career best 2.73 ERA with a 1.07 WHIP. Along with his career high numbers, Davies saw his strikeout rate jump significantly, getting to 8.2 K/9, the highest by almost a full strikeout in his career. The problem with Davies, is that he might have been the benefactor of some really good luck in 2020, as he ranked in the bottom 14th percentile in Barrel percentage, and in the top 72nd percentile in BB percentage. This spells trouble, especially while looking at his xERA (which tells you the pitchers projected ERA based off of the likelihood of a ball becoming a hit throughout a season) and it spells trouble at 5.01.
The prospects coming to Chicago, are the Padres 11th, 13th, 15th and 16th best prospects according to MLB.com. Reginald Preciado was signed out of Panama in 2019, and grades out at about average, but the young shortstop is still only 17 years old, but likely is a long term commitment type of prospect, but comes in at 6’4 and 185 pounds as just a teenager. Next is the 13th best prospect Owen Cassie who is another young buck, only 18 years old and was a second rounder in the 2020 draft out of Burlington Ontario (hey how are yah). Like Preciado, Cassie is a long term commitment piece as the outfielder currently rates out at a little below average, but he is still super young. And what a shocker, another 18 year old, in the 15th best prospect Ismel Mena, and another outfielder like Cassie. Mena in my opinion looks the best out of the four prospects coming back in this trade, as the 6’3 185 pound left handed hitting Mena grades out with 70 speed with average power and hitting ability at his age, which is likely only going to go up. Lastly, the 16th best prospect and the last one going back to the Cubs is Yeison Santana, a 20 year old, who absolutely went off in 2019 in rookie ball, hitting .346/.429/.494 with a .923 OPS. Santana is likely going to be the first of this group to make it to the higher levels, and is the most Major League ready, even if that is two to three years on the horizon.