The MLB offseason has been moving quite slowly. Free-agent starting pitcher Blake Snell is feeling the brunt of it. As of January 26, the two-time Cy Young Award winner has received just one official offer from an interested team.
During a January 24 live stream for Bleacher Report, the New York Post’s Jon Heyman floated the possibility of a “surprise team” coming out of nowhere to sign Snell. “I think this is one of these situations now where it could go to any surprise team,” he said. “I think [Snell] may be like Prince Fielder, who was never connected to Detroit, right? And then…he ended up signing for $214 million.”
With that in mind, the American League West seems to be a division to watch regarding Snell’s free agency. In a January 26 article for Bleacher Report, Zachary D. Rymer listed three teams that would classify as a surprise landing spot. This trio includes two AL West teams (the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers), as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Astros and Rangers haven’t been seriously connected to Snell this winter. However, the Los Angeles Angels were rumored to have Snell at the top of their priority list as recently as December 21. Meanwhile, the Seattle Mariners have been an intriguing possibility because Snell grew up in the area and rooted for them as a kid. These teams aren’t the full extent of the left-hander’s market, but this particular division has had multiple teams pop up as possible landing spots.
Potential Fits With Astros & Rangers
Just about every team would like another frontline starter, especially one like Snell, who already has two Cy Young Awards on his mantle. But when it comes to the Astros, it’s hard to see a fit here. The Athletic’s Chandler Rome reported on November 8 that Houston didn’t have much payroll flexibility this winter. And that was before they signed closer Josh Hader to a $95 million deal.
The Astros’ current rotation mix includes Justin Verlander, Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier, Hunter Brown and Jose Urquidy, per FanGraphs’ Roster Resource. They seem mostly set in this area of the roster unless something drastic happens like trading Valdez.
Texas seems like a more realistic landing spot under one condition. They’ve been linked to free-agent hurler Jordan Montgomery for weeks. A reunion between both sides has been the industry expectation. But if the southpaw heads elsewhere — like the Boston Red Sox — it could open up a rotation spot for Snell in Arlington.
Potential Fits With Angels & Mariners
According to FanGraphs, the Angels’ starting five currently consist of Reid Detmers, Griffin Canning, Patrick Sandoval, Tyler Anderson and Chase Silseth. Los Angeles’ rotation is projected to produce 11.0 WAR in 2024. That’s the ninth-lowest mark in baseball, per FanGraphs. The need for an upgrade is there, but Snell’s rumored asking price of $200-plus million is a deterrent. FanSided’s Robert Murray said on January 11 that he felt the Angels would get involved if the lefty’s price drops.
As for the Mariners, there hadn’t been much said about them since the end of November. That is, until MLB Network’s Jim Bowden shared a report on X (formerly Twitter) on January 24 about how Seattle could get involved. “The Mariners continue to listen to trade proposals for pitchers in their starting rotation since the return in this market would be inflated…then consider signing Blake Snell to upgrade the top of the rotation,” he said. “Rangers are still engaged in trying to have a reunion with Jordan Montgomery.”
Seattle has already shed the salaries of Robbie Ray and Marco Gonzales from its rotation this winter in separate trades. Staff ace Luis Castillo probably isn’t available. However, Logan Gilbert, George Kirby, Bryce Miller and Bryan Woo could be on the trade block.
The team Snell plays for in 2024 is a mystery right now. Landing somewhere in the AL West appears to be a distinct possibility. It’ll likely depend on how his market continues unfolding into February, though.
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