8:32pm: Padres outfielder Ismael Mena and shortstop Yeison Santana are other names in discussion, Mayo reports.
8:20pm: Davies and “several prospects,” including 2020 second-round outfielder Owen Caissie, will be going to the Cubs, Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com reports. Shortstop Reginald Preciado will also head to Chicago, per Acee, who adds that the trade features “two other prospects.” The Cubs won’t get any of the Padres’ top five prospects, according to Nightengale.
7:10pm: Caratini will be part of the trade once it occurs, but Campusano won’t, Nightengale tweets.
6:58pm: The clubs are close to a deal and appear as if they’ll finalize it tonight, per Nightengale.
4:32pm: The trade looks to be close, Heyman tweets. Caratini would “likely” join Darvish in San Diego, though the Cubs want “some MLB experience” as part of their return.
3:04pm: The two teams are nearing agreement “on the multiple pieces” of a Darvish trade, per Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune. The Pads “have accepted the haul they will have to send to the Cubs,” Acee writes.
2:50pm: Top catching prospect Luis Campusano is among the names that has been discussed, Nightengale reports. His inclusion in the deal would give the Cubs a replacement should they send a catcher to the Padres. Campusano would join Miguel Amaya as a potential long-term option at the position with Contreras up for free agency in two years (if he’s not traded in this or another deal first).
2:03pm: There’s “growing optimism” that the two sides will complete a deal, tweets USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, adding that an agreement could come together as soon as today.
12:28pm: The Padres are focused on more than Darvish alone, per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman and the New York Post’s Joel Sherman (Twitter link). Both suggest that the talks between the Cubs and Padres could be expanded to include one of Willson Contreras or Victor Caratini.
The Padres’ catching corps has turned over considerably over the past year, with Francisco Mejia now with in Tampa Bay, Austin Hedges in Cleveland and Luis Torrens in Seattle. The Friars have Austin Nola atop their catching depth chart, with touted prospect Luis Campusano behind him, but the latter is still lacking in MLB experience. Either Chicago catcher would bolster the group, and Contreras would likely push Nola into a super-utility role similar to the one in which he thrived with the Mariners.
11:56am: Despite last night’s agreement to acquire Blake Snell from the Rays, the Cubs are also “deep” in talks on a trade that would send Yu Darvish from Chicago to San Diego, according to Dennis Lin, Patrick Mooney and Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic (Twitter link). R.J. Anderson of CBS Sports first indicated that the Padres were still in the mix for Darvish even after landing Snell. Importantly, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman tweets that San Diego is not on Darvish’s 12-team no-trade list, so the deal can be made without requiring Darvish’s approval.
If completed, the Darvish trade could be the next step in another dizzying flurry of headline-grabbing transactions from general manager A.J. Preller. In addition to Snell and the potential Darvish deal, the Padres are also reported to be the favorites to sign KBO superstar Ha-Seong Kim. If all three moves come to fruition, this sequence would hearken back to Preller’s inaugural offseason, wherein Matt Kemp dubbed him the “Rock Star” GM — and back to this summer’s frenzied series of trade deadline acquisitions. Few front offices around the game act as boldly and decisively as the Padres when a course is set, and the Snell acquisition clearly looks to have set some dominos in motion.
It’s at least possible there’s a connection between today’s pair of Friars rumors; the Cubs surely want controllable young talent, and a player like Jake Cronenworth would certainly be of interest to them in a Darvish deal. That’s speculative on my part, to be clear, but it’s not hard to see how those pieces could fit into place. Alternatively, if the Padres were to send an outfielder with a notable salary back to Chicago to help offset Darvish’s contract (e.g. Tommy Pham, Wil Myers), Cronenworth could move into the outfield if needed.
Darvish, 34, is still owed $62MM over the next three seasons as part of the six-year, $126MM he initially signed with the Cubs prior to the 2018 season. The first year of that massive contract could scarcely have gone worse, as Darvish was limited to just 40 innings due to a series of injuries that culminated in arthroscopic elbow surgery.
At that point, few would’ve imagined Darvish resurfacing as both a front-line starter and a highly sought-after trade commodity, but that’s exactly what’s happened. Darvish finished second in National League Cy Young voting in 2020, thanks to a brilliant 2.01 ERA and 93-to-13 K/BB ratio through 76 innings. However, his renaissance extends further back than that.
Dating back to Memorial Day 2019, Darvish has made 32 starts and totaled 199 2/3 innings of 2.84 ERA/3.04 FIP ball with averages of 11.5 strikeouts and 2.4 walks per nine frames. At less than $21MM a year, this version of Darvish looks like a relative bargain, though buying his age-34, age-35 and age-36 seasons obviously still carries risk. Darvish is also a favorite of Preller — a former Rangers assistant GM who played an integral part in scouting and signing Darvish during his time with Texas.
The very notion of a rotation featuring some combination of Snell, Darvish, Dinelson Lamet, Chris Paddack, Zach Davies and MacKenzie Gore is a dream scenario for Padres fans — the type of starting staff that would give the Friars a group to go toe-to-toe with the perennial division winners up in Los Angeles. Few teams in the game could boast such a deep and talented group of starting pitchers, and while Davies is a free agent next winter, the Padres will get Mike Clevinger back from Tommy John surgery for the 2022 season. A 2022 group of Snell, Darvish, Lamet, Clevinger, Paddack and Gore has the potential to be utterly overwhelming.
For the Cubs, trading away some combination of Darvish, Contreras and Caratini would be a painful first step in at least some degree of a rebuilding effort. While the Cubs probably won’t tear the roster down to the studs, there’s also some inevitable change on the horizon. Cornerstone pieces like Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez are all free agents next winter. Kyle Schwarber would’ve joined that group but has already been non-tendered. Contreras is only controlled through 2022.
Improbable as it would have seemed a few years back, Darvish now stands out as one of president Jed Hoyer’s most desirable trade targets to dangle for other teams, joining Contreras and Kyle Hendricks in that regard. Trading Darvish (and Contreras or Caratini) would give the Cubs an avenue to clear salary and acquire controllable talent for the team’s next core.
However this plays out, it seems likely that more moves will be on the horizon for the Padres and Cubs alike. The Cubs could either jump into free agency to add a Darvish replacement at a lower cost, or they could continue to shop veteran stars like Bryant and Hendricks. And for the Padres, Preller’s history suggests that more moves are likely to follow even if Darvish, Kim and one of Contreras/Caratini all land in San Diego. The Padres could still use some help in the bullpen, for instance, and they’ll likely send some MLB talent to Chicago in order to push the Darvish deal across the line. It’s going to be a busy week in San Diego.