Snell excited for SD, but will miss old bonds

December 29th, 2020

was sitting at home when Rays general manager Erik Neander called to notify him that he had been traded to the Padres in exchange for prospects Luis Patiño, Blake Hunt and Cole Wilcox, as well as catcher Francisco Mejía.

Shock was Snell’s initial reaction, a feeling that remains even days after the trade was agreed upon between the two teams. After he got off the phone with Neander, Snell’s first move was to call pitching coach Kyle Snyder, the coach who played the biggest role in Snell’s development over the last few seasons.

Snyder and Snell had an emotional call that lasted nearly two hours. Once he hung up, the reality started to sink in for Snell: He was no longer a member of the Tampa Bay Rays, the organization that drafted him 52nd overall in 2011.

“[The Rays are] all I know,” Snell told “I grew up through this system, I grew up around a lot of those people, I matured as a human, I grew as a man and a lot of those people guided me in that direction. What’s going to suck is to not be able to see those people, because I won’t be able to say thank you to all of them. It goes from the clubbies, the security guards, everyone -- they all had a big impact in my life.”

Snell admitted that the trade is a bittersweet move. The left-hander is excited about the opportunity to play for a Padres team that has a chance to contend for a World Series title with a young and exciting core, but part of Snell wanted to get back to the Fall Classic with the Rays, especially after the infamous decision by manager Kevin Cash to pull the left-hander in the Game 6 loss to the Dodgers.

“It sucks, because I have such a strong bond with those guys,” Snell said. “We accomplished a lot last year, and I think it was good for us to see that and believe we can do it, but with me and Charlie [Morton] being gone now, you took a lot out of that team. They’re a bunch of ballers and they’re going to dominate, but you took the air out of those guys.

“I’m sad, because I wanted to be a part of that and I wanted to help this team win a World Series. But I’m still rooting for those guys. I’m still pushing for them to be the best team they can be, because I love everyone over there and I have nothing but love for the Rays.”

Snell also wanted to make it clear that he did not want to be traded, and he certainly didn’t demand a trade despite what happened during the World Series. When he signed his five-year, $50 million deal in ‘19, Snell said he wanted to be with the organization for the entire duration of the contract.

He bought a home in St. Petersburg and remodeled parts of the house, including adding a pool in the backyard. But with the Rays looking for financial relief, the organization decided it was the time to part ways with Snell, who is owed nearly $40 million over the next three seasons.

"I never wanted out of Tampa,” Snell said. “I’m not going to be the guy that gets mad or talks crap about anybody, because they’re doing their job to the best of their ability. I respect the front office, I respect Kevin Cash and I know people want to get on him about a lot of stuff, but he’s a good manager.

“I didn’t want out of Tampa; if anything, I wanted to stay there longer. I wanted to be a Ray, but now that I’m traded, I have to move forward and get excited about being a Padre and helping that team win a World Series -- and I’m excited for that. I have nothing but love for the Rays, they did a lot for me and I can’t be more thankful for what they did for me.”

With the additions of Snell and Yu Darvish, who is also headed to San Diego, the Padres have built one of the best rotations in the Majors. Snell has already been in contact with his new teammates, including Manny Machado and Tommy Pham, who played a key role in motivating the Padres to trade for Snell.

It’ll take some getting used to, even for Snell, but the 28-year-old is focused on his next chapter.

“The Padres have a really good team,” Snell said. “They can hit, they can play defense, they can pitch and if they get Yu as well, I’m excited about what we’ll be able to do. It’s cool to go to a team where the owner spends money and wants to win and wants to win now, and I’ll get to be a part of that. I know I’ll be a big part of that, so I’m definitely excited about the opportunity, and I can’t wait to thrive in it.”