The San Diego Padres have been the team that has done the most this offseason since they have acquired starters Blake Snell and Yu Darvish. Have those moves accelerated the Colorado Rockies rebuild?
The final week was a bit of a gut punch for Colorado Rockies fans as they saw their divisional rival, the San Diego Padres, acquire not one, but two starting pitchers that have either won a Cy Young Award or come in second for a Cy Young Award in the last three seasons in 2018 Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell and 2020 NL Cy Young Award runner-up Yu Darvish.
With those two acquisitions, the Padres only had to sacrifice one of their five prospects that were in MLB.com’s top 100 prospects (plus another former top 100 prospect). Even with the acquisitions, the Padres are nowhere near the favorite in the National League or even in the National League West, as the Los Angeles Dodgers will look to defend their World Series title in 2021 as heavy favorites in the division and favorites in the NL, in general.
The two moves do put the Rockies more in limbo if they weren’t in limbo already. The Rockies have a .437 winning percentage in the last two seasons, which is an average of 71 wins for a 162 game season. Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story are also, potentially, just a year away from free agency.
So, MLB Network’s flagship show, MLB Tonight, discussed whether or not the two trades by the Padres have accelerated the Rockies rebuild. Former All-Star pitcher Dan Plesac said he believes so.
“I think [the Padres] accelerated the curve [for the Rockies] to go ahead and try to move Nolan Arenado,” said Plesac on Tuesday. “You look at that division right now, it’s been a stranglehold — eight straight years the Dodgers have won the [NL] West. Right now the Padres, they’re on a first-class flight, they want that top spot.”
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He also added that, while Arenado might not be traded this offseason, he does “think that Nolan Arenado will be moved before the  All-Star break.”
As noted in this article on MLB.com, it may be hard for the Rockies to find a deal that they would like for Arenado if the Darvish trade is any idea of what the return would be. Darvish, 34, has three years left on his contract and he came in second in the NL Cy Young Award voting in 2020 for the Cubs. The Cubs got MLB starting pitcher Zach Davies back in return along with four prospects, none of which were in the Padres’ top ten prospects and three of which are still teenagers. In other words, the Cubs didn’t get much.
As the offseason or the regular season wears on, the desperation for teams seeking a third baseman will become more apparent but if a trade happens partway through the season, the Rockies will get even less for Arenado since the acquiring team will have less of him. But if a trade happens this offseason, the Rockies, like most teams, will have to play the waiting game on free agents. Once there are only a few free agents left, teams may be scrambling to address needs or, if teams hold out long enough, some teams may come back into play, like the St. Louis Cardinals.
Either way, it looks like there is a lot of the long, cold Hot Stove season left and, perhaps, it could go on longer than any fan hopes.