Ranking Snell's 11 likeliest destinations

January 9th, 2024

Last week, while reading my colleague Mike Petriello’s always fantastic prediction of the 40 Hall of Famers we’ll be watching this season, I did a double-take when he included as a possibility. Blake Snell? The guy who currently has fewer career innings pitched than Danny Duffy and Matt Moore? Snell has had his moments, but … Hall of Fame? But then Petriello’s piece reminded me:

If you get three [Cy Young Awards], you are in, and is it that hard to see either [Jacob] deGrom or Snell putting together just one more tremendously good season? And if they do, can you really keep them out?

And he’s absolutely right. If Blake Snell wins another Cy Young – and it’s hardly a crazy thought; he just won one – he would seem to be ticketed for the Hall of Fame. After all, as Petriello points out, every other three-time winner is there (other than the three active pitchers who will get in, and Roger Clemens, who is out for other reasons.) Blake Snell! Hall of Famer! Who would have thought it?

This is all to say that while there has been some skepticism about Snell’s free-agent case this offseason – mostly because of his lack of innings, his shockingly high walk total and concerns that he won’t always be able to pitch himself out of trouble like he did last year – this is still a fantastic pitcher. The disparity between how Snell and his agent Scott Boras (who keeps comparing him to Randy Johnson) see his market and, well, how MLB teams see his market is the reason he hasn’t signed yet. But someone’s going to sign him, and someone’s going to be a lot better because they did. And you never know: He might just wear their hat on a Hall of Fame plaque someday.

But who will actually sign him? Here’s a ranking of Snell’s possible suitors, from most likely to least likely.

1. Angels
Look, the Angels are going to have to spend their money somewhere after Shohei Ohtani’s departure, and this might be the perfect fit. Snell is a West Coast guy (from the Seattle area) who would likely fit better in Anaheim than, say, the Bronx, and obviously the need in Anaheim is rather profound. Would Snell be willing to sign up for a half-decade or more with a team that doesn’t seem to have a clear path to contention? If there’s enough money on the table, he certainly might. Honestly, one of the reasons that Snell’s such a polarizing free agent is because there is no obvious fit for him. So this is as good a top overall guess as any.

2. Yankees
Is it possible that the only reason fellow free-agent left-hander Jordan Montgomery feels like more of a fit than Snell in the Bronx is because he’s already pitched there? If Snell goes out and wins an AL Cy Young Award for the Yanks, trust me: The Bleacher Creatures will love him. Combining Snell with Gerrit Cole would give the club a top-tier one-two punch and a little more certainty as it waits to see what Carlos Rodón might be able to offer this year. Sure, the Yankees would be a little lefty heavy, and if the contract is too long it might cause them some headaches trying to keep Juan Soto long term, but they need to win this year. Snell certainly would help them do that.

3. Dodgers
As long as they have roster spots available, we’ve learned they’ll spend to fill them. Snell would actually be precisely what the Dodgers need in 2024, though it’s certainly up for debate if he’s what they’d need in 2030, or however long a contract would keep him in L.A. But the one clear weakness the Dodgers have right now is starting pitching – albeit much less of one than at the start of the offseason. Making Snell their, uh, No. 3 (?) starter would go a long way to eliminating that weakness completely.

4. Cubs
The Cubs are going to have to sign someone at some point. Snell, in many ways, is the opposite of the rest of their starters in that he racks up a lot of strikeouts and walks as opposed to relying on an excellent defense. Justin Steele is a solid No. 1, but he’d be an even better No. 2, and Snell, if healthy, is an upgrade over free agent Marcus Stroman. The Cubs are going to make a splash soon, or at least they had better. Snell would be quite a splash.

5. Padres
The Padres just had one of the most disappointing seasons in their history, and then they lost their best hitter (Juan Soto) and may soon lose their closer (Josh Hader) and Cy Young winner in Snell. So maybe they try to cut their losses by hanging on to Snell. That would require a big commitment that would seem to fly in the face of some of their other moves this offseason, but that said, this team does still have three MVP-caliber players on the roster in Manny Machado, Xander Bogaerts and Fernando Tatis Jr. The rotation, however, could use some help, and Snell knows he can succeed here. He was a great fit before, and there’s no reason he couldn’t be a great fit moving forward.

6. Mariners
The Giants-Mariners trade last week, the one that sent Robbie Ray to San Francisco and Mitch Haniger back to Seattle, certainly dropped the Giants, long considered a logical landing place for Snell, down this list. But it might have raised the Mariners up it. Snell has made no secret of his desire to head back home, and trading Ray did free up some future payroll space. It’s not clear whether Seattle will use that on Snell, but he does really fit his hometown team like a glove. Do the Mariners have the will to make it happen?

7. Giants
Does bringing in Ray take them out of the running? Would signing Shōta Imanaga? It's hard to say, even if all three are left-handed, and the match between team and player had most people putting the Giants atop this list before the Ray trade. It seems less likely now, but that doesn’t make it impossible.

8. Phillies
He fits the veteran profile, even if he doesn’t fit the old Veterans Stadium profile of your ideal Phillies fan favorite. But Snell, Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola would make quite a top three come October.

9. Red Sox
They recently traded one ace left-hander (Chris Sale), and Snell could be the guy to replace him, even if the two men have little in common other than both being talented southpaws. It’s not clear whether Snell’s laid-back Pacific Northwest vibe would be a good fit in Boston, but stranger things have happened.

10. Orioles
Seriously … this is the perfect fit for the Orioles, and maybe for Snell, who would likely be received quite well here, as a veteran ace on an up-and-coming squad. But it’s far from clear, based on their recent history, that the Orioles are going to make a serious run at any big-ticket free agent, which keeps Baltimore toward the bottom of this list.

11. Mets
It’s a free agent power ranking. You always have to include them. But after missing out on Yoshinobu Yamamoto, it seems like the Mets prefer to focus on lower-key moves this offseason.