Blake Snell is the seventh pitcher in history to win Cy Young Awards in both leagues. As the great Sarah Langs pointed out, she is one of just 11 pitchers to become a free agent after earning the recognition.
The left-hander is 31 years old, four years younger than fellow left-hander Randy Johnson when he signed with the D-backs and delivered the best performance of his career. Snell is about the same age as Max Scherzer was when he signed with the Nationals. Everyone knows what the right-hander did for the Capitals team, including his contribution in helping them win their first World Series title in 2019.
Snell will receive a big contract. And that’s the way it should be, especially in a world where Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who has never seen action in the majors, just received a $325 million contract from the Dodgers. The Red Sox should acquire Snell’s services at any cost. The Mets and Yankees should do the same, as the Bombers may not have enough starting pitching to finish better than fourth place in the AL East.
Can investing so much in an opener be a big risk? This has happened since the birth of free agency, ever since the Yankees signed Catfish Hunter following his departure from the A’s 50 years ago. It will always be risky. Some free agent starters – like Greg Maddux and CC Sabathia – continued to be at full strength. Some got injured. Dominican Pedro Martínez was the same when he arrived at the Mets, but then he got injured and was never the same.
But at a time when almost every team needs starting pitching, Snell is still the best pitcher available, and the best pitcher ever. At the start of last season with the Padres, he was giving up five runs per game, but then he went 14-9, striking out 234 batters in 180 innings and 32 starts. His ERA was an impressive 2.25.
Gerrit Cole, the American League Cy Young Award winner, made 33 starts for the Yankees, had one more win than Snell, had an earned run average of 2.63 and struck out 222 batters in 209 innings. This means he averaged one chapter more per presentation than Snell. Cole is 33 years old and is considered by some to be the most valuable starter in the Major Leagues right now. The campaigns of both of them were practically of the same type.
“At his best,” Buck Showalter said, “he’s one of those guys who might be unbeatable.”
But then Showalter added the following about the starting players, whether they pitched in the Major Leagues or in Japan:
“You can evaluate them as much as you want. But in the end, you never know what will happen.”
U never know. The Yankees gave Sabathia a seven-year, $160 million contract and 14 years later, they signed Carlos Rodon for roughly the same amount, with one year less on his contract. Sabathia went 19-8 in his first season in New York, finished fourth in Cy Young voting, was a workhorse in the postseason and the Yankees were champions.
And Rodan? He suffered an ailment in his forearm, another ailment in his hamstring and back trouble. In the end, he made only 14 starts for New York and finished with an ERA under seven. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said the obvious at the winter meetings.
Cashman almost expressed a wish for his 2024 Bombers, saying, “In his second year, we hope Rodon is what we expected to see when we signed him.”
Regardless of the history of the elbow or shoulder, good and bad luck is always a factor. That’s why in baseball, the word tommy john occur with approximately the same frequency play ball, For example, Nathan Eovaldi signed with the Rangers last season and helped them win the World Series. They acquired him for two years and $34 million, which is about the same amount the Yankees invested in Marcus Stroman a few days ago. Eovaldi pitched like a legend in October. and you know what? This right-handed batsman has undergone two Tommy John surgeries in his career.
Snell had arthroscopic surgery on his throwing elbow four years ago. Now he has reached the level of becoming the best pitcher on the old circuit. He had a great season for the Padres, finishing with an 82–80 record, as did Gerrit Cole for the Yankees, finishing with the same record.
Cole is not a free agent. But Snell is. All teams should look for his services. When you look at the situation of the Red Sox – who finished last in the AL East, and what awaits them with only righties currently in their rotation – they should have to work hardest to add him.
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