What a Cubs/Padres Blockbuster Trade of Yu Darvish Might Look Like

This morning on MLB Network Jon Morosi hit us with more Yu Darvish trade rumors. What’s interesting is that he conjectures not specific rumors, but proffers that the San Diego Padres make the most sense as a trade partner should the Cubs pull the trigger on a blockbuster move:

This is a bit of a surprise, especially since Jon Heyman reported on Monday the odds the Cubs might trade Darvish are “very low”. Whether Morosi’s take on the Padres as the ideal trade partner is purely his own conclusion, or whether he’s heard it suggested by a source with enough clout to publicly assess San Diego’s potential to make a blockbuster move, is entirely unknown.

The rumor is out there, though, and as such it’s worth a deeper look.

Brett Taylor has a great breakdown from earlier today, and while the full article is worth a read, here are the salient points:

Before we get into the Padres aspect of this, let me note what Morosi said up front: he believes Darvish is “fairly priced to market.” That’s a really eye-opening statement, because it implies not only that Darvish is out there on the trade market (as has previously been reported and surmised), but also that the Cubs are actually willing to talk about trade returns that are considered “fair.” Now, I could (and would!) argue that the “fair” return on three well-priced years of Darvish in this market is really significant. But when a national reporter says that the pricing is “fair,” it makes me wonder just how interested the Cubs are in trading Darvish (who, by the way, has a 12-team no trade list, the contents of which are currently unknown).

Brett Taylor, Bleacher Nation, 12/23/2020

On the surface, the Padres do, indeed, match-up quite well with the Cubs. The Mike Clevinger injury certainly stings, but they’re still left with a solid trio of starters in Dinelson Lamet, Chris Paddack, and Zach Davies. Lefty Mackenzie Gore — a prospect so good he’d be untouchable in trade discussions — could become a rotation fixture in 2021, and fellow top prospect Luis Patino, who made his debut in 2020, is not far behind — and is also likely untouchable.

The Padres would love to bolster the rotation with a true Ace, however, and Darvish would be an ideal fit. Given that the Padres have significant prospect capital — even outside their top handful of prospects — and that a trade of Darvish would signal the Cubs are punting on 2021, a trade of this magnitude should focus on future talent.

While it’s true the Cubs are currently in need of at least two starters this offseason to fill out the rotation and add some depth, if they’re going to punt on the 2021 season, Darvish would likely bring the biggest possible return. Adding a few veteran starters on one year deals while accruing controllable, future assets in a blockbuster deal isn’t ideal for a team that could still compete in 2021, but this is where we’re at with the Cubs.

Since the All-Star Break in 2019, Darvish has been brilliant. In 157.2 innings, he’s posted a 2.40 ERA (2.54 FIP), with a 34.6 K% and 3.4 BB%. These numbers scream ‘Ace’, and it’s not hard to imagine why San Diego might be willing to dip into their prospect well to land a player of Darvish’s caliber — with three years of control, no less.

His production, contract length, and relative bargain for an Ace ($59 million due over next three seasons) will ensure any actual trade yields tremendous prospect return for the Cubs. If Jed Hoyer does pull the trigger on a Darvish trade it will be a sad day for the Cubs –but the Padres certainly are an ideal partner.

They need an Ace, and the Cubs could recoup a considerable amount of controllable pitching in return.

What can the Cubs get for Darvish?

Baseball Trade Values is a terrific tool in assessing potential trades, with realistic values ascribed to major league players based on “field value” and salary, and assigning value to minor leaguers based on scouting reports — or perceived future value.

It’s a handy tool to utilize when assessing potential trade partners, and since the Cubs are often rumored to be open for business this offseason, it’s been a tool I’ve become intimately familiar with. (Here’s a piece, along with Patrick Flowers, on a hypothetical crosstown swap of Kris Bryant.)

It’s understandable that the Cubs would want a big-league ready arm for Darvish, and the only player that makes sense in that regard is Adrian Morejon. The 21-year-old lefty hasn’t put it all together yet, but he has just 27.1 big league innings under his belt, debuting in 2019. Armed with a mid-90’s fastball, Morejon’s secondary offerings include a split-finger, curve, and slider.

The stuff is very real, although there are concerns about his maturity and ability to perform at a consistent level. Given that he’s just 21 I wouldn’t read much into the immaturity concerns, and I’m also bullish on the idea the Cubs’ Pitch Lab would help him discover consistency — with the ability to develop into a solid #2 starter.

Morejon is a great start in a trade — offering the Cubs a highly-talented, controllable asset they can plug into the rotation immediately. To round out the trade, a couple additional arms are needed, however.

The Padres number six prospect, Ryan Weathers, would make a lot of sense for the Cubs as well. The southpaw features a solid-if-not-dominant four pitch mix, and shows tremendous command of his low-90’s fastball that maintains a high spin rate. The son of former big leaguer David Weathers offers considerable pedigree, and the lefty — who made his MLB debut in the 2020 playoffs — should be ready for a full time audition in 2021 or 2022. He’s a perfect high-floor starter to add to the Cubs farm system.

Rounding out my trade proposal is the Padres 10th best prospect, Reggie Lawson. The 6’4 righty is just 23 years old, and boasts a mid-90’s fastball with a sharp curve and a developing changeup. There are concerns about his control — and he’s currently recovering from Tommy John surgery — but again, the Cubs pitching infrastructure can go a long way in developing his elite talent. Lawson is more of a high-ceiling gamble, but should he not pan out as a starter he could evolve into a dominant, back-end arm in the ‘pen.

Baseball Trade Values considers this as a minor overpay for the Padres, but that is an appropriate cost for Darvish at this point. The Cubs are far from desperate in a desire to trade Yu, even if the desire from ownership to slash payroll in 2021 is very real. Per the Bleacher Nation post above, these competing factors have led the Cubs to be open to a trade at “fair” market value for Darvish, and this is very much within the framework of his market value.

I shudder at the thought of the Cubs trading Darvish, for a multitude of reasons. A big market team trading their best starting pitcher in the name of slashing payroll is flat out ludicrous, as is throwing in the towel on the 2021 season in a very winnable NL Central. It sucks to think about, but since the rumors aren’t likely to cease anytime soon, there’s not much left to do but accept it as a possibility.

Should the Cubs perform a blockbuster trade with San Diego, landing a talented, ready-now arm (Morejon), a solid, middle-of-rotation projected lefty (Weathers), and a high-ceiling, uber talented rigthy (Lawson) would provide a shot in the arm for a franchise in desperate need of long-term pitching talent.

I hate to say it, but given the circumstances the Cubs are currently mired in, I might just pull the trigger on this theoretical endeavor.


Featured Photo: Nam Y. Huh, Associated Press


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10 thoughts on “What a Cubs/Padres Blockbuster Trade of Yu Darvish Might Look Like

  1. Gimme Cronenworth, and 2/3 pitchers you named

    Like

  2. Contreras and Darvish
    For
    Cronenworth, Morejon, Weathers, and Lawson

    Like

  3. The Padres are not going to trade Croenworth any time soon, stupid idiot.

    Like

    1. There’s no reason for name calling. Maybe try civility and having a real discussion about why you don’t foresee Cronenworth in any deal.

      Like

  4. Go home, you’re drunk. 17 yrs of control for 3yrs of a 20M AAV pitcher in the twilight of his career. Castillo, definitely, Snell, probably, Darvish no. Which pitcher is he? 2019 or 2020? You don’t send a package like that for questions.

    Adrian is 21 yr old pitching at the ML leveled that was rushed and still can get out big league hitters. Same with Ryan Weathers . Never pitched above Advance A and a post season debut doesn’t phase him. Umm no. Just give Paxton his price and they still have the future. And before you start, Darvish career parallels Snell but Snell is cheaper and 5 yrs young .

    It always amuses me that fans of teams that dump on the Pads farm but then want to raid the top prospects for aging vets they need to purge. The Pads don’t need Contreras. They didn’t send Taylor Trammel, Ty France, and Luis Torrens to Sea to have Austin Nola sit. Again just pay Yadi his 10M and get the value and of Contreras without giving up their best 2B answer on a decade. San Diego will do just fine without Darvish. Morosi is just pushing stories.

    Like

    1. Lots to unpack here, I’ll work backward:

      1) Where did you come up with me wanting to trade Contreras to San Diego? He literally is not involved in this piece.

      2) Cubs fans are blanching at my suggesting the Padres 6th & 10th prospects along with Morejon. You are supposing it’s asking way too much… this is precisely why I used Baseball Trade Values, which is objective and suggests it as a fair value for both squads.

      3) I don’t want to see Darvish traded, and I hate the idea Cubs are in this place. I am just following the stories and rumors, and this is where we’re at.

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      1. Repack it, no one cares about your opinion

        Like

  5. Pass, Darvish is past his prime and doesn’t warrant a haul like that.

    Like

    1. He’s been utterly dominant since the ‘19 All Star Break, but yeah — he’s “washed up”.

      Like

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