Cubs Trade Rumors: Yu Darvish Speculation Temporarily Fizzles, Rays May Remain Interesting Potential Partner

Welp, this one died a quick death. Multiple reports are now saying the Padres are very much interested in trading for Darvish.

Trade rumor-mongers were dealt a tremendous blow Sunday as the Padres and Rays completed a deal for Blake Snell that effectively eliminated both teams as potential Cubs partners this offseason. San Diego had been connected to Yu Darvish, who was reportedly “fairly priced to market,” but moving two pitching prospects, a catching prospect, and a big-league catcher means the Pads aren’t swinging another big deal.

The return of catchers Francisco Mejía and Blake Hunt along with righties Luis Patiño and Cole Wilcox looks good from a volume standpoint, but it probably wouldn’t have made much sense for the Cubs. Don’t get me wrong, it’d be nice to pick up two of any organization’s top four pitching prospects. That alone wouldn’t be enough for Darvish, though, and the rest of the haul wouldn’t have done much for the Cubs.

Mejía is a backup at best who’s only hit better than .180 once, plus his work behind the plate isn’t very good. The 22-year-old Hunt wasn’t even the Padres’ top catching prospect — that would be Luis Campusano — and Chicago already has potential super-stud Miguel Amaya working his way up. And it’s not like this was a pre-fixe trade menu, as Snell is six years younger than Darvish and carries less than half the salary obligation over the same three remaining years of control.

All of which is to say the Cubs probably would have gotten less had they tried to push forward with a deal, if there was really anything there to be had in the first place.

But since we’re already pursuing hypotheticals, let’s look at how this could impact the Cubs’ trade market in other ways. I’m speaking, of course, about Willson Contreras. Many people, present company included, believe he is easily their most valuable trade chip should they opt to take that route, and there has been speculation for a while now that the Rays would be interested in acquiring him.

Tampa appears to be pretty set behind the plate…unless the thought is that they’re loading up on backstops in order to flip one or more in a deal that would help the Cubs bridge the gap to Amaya. Of course, they’ve also added those two righties to a system that already has 13 pitchers among its top 30, so maybe they do have bigger machinations.

We should be in for a relatively quiet week as the weirdest year in recent memory winds down, but expect the hot stove to really be stoked once January gets rolling. There are still dozens of free agents left unsigned and the league’s economics should come into better focus as they figure out more about attendance, expanded playoffs, and other less significant wrinkles.

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