Is Padres pitcher Blake Snell criticizing the Rays with his latest Instagram Story?
While the post he shared is about Derek Jeter leaving the Miami Marlins, it’s not hard to connect the dots. One of the players’ biggest issues throughout the lockout is the very obvious difference between the teams that are trying to compete, and the ones that aren’t. And when the Rays traded Snell to the Padres two months after losing the World Series to the Dodgers, they cemented themselves in the latter category.
It’s pretty easy to understand why Snell would sub-gram (like subtweet) his former team. His final months there were stunningly sad, from the World Series shocker to his trade to San Diego.
When Rays manager Kevin Cash pulled Snell while he was pitching a gem against the Dodgers in Game 6, it was a stunning decision that almost everyone knew would not end well. The entire MLB world erupted, including reactions from several former World Series champions.
In the immediate aftermath of the Dodgers’ victory, Snell was diplomatic, saying he “saw both sides” of the situation. However, he later told CC Sabathia and Ryan Ruocco on their R2C2 podcast that he was “lost:”
"“I didn’t know what to say, what to do. I just remember I called my dad when I got to the hotel. We talked for a minute, and I didn’t really say much. I didn’t have nothing to say. I was like, ‘We really just handed them the World Series.’ That’s how it felt.”"
Barely two months later, the Rays traded Snell to the Padres for catcher Francisco Mejía and prospects Blake Hunt, Luis Patiño, and Cole Wilcox.
Less than two months after that, in February 2021, Snell contributed to the Players’ Tribune and gave a firsthand account of the entire situation. The 2018 AL Cy Young began by accurately saying that he had been “pitching the game of [his] life that night,” and said that seeing Nick Anderson warming in the bullpen was a “What the heck?” moment for him.
While Snell again took the diplomatic route and said he had the “utmost respect” for Cash, he also said that he had planned to speak with his manager at Spring Training about wanting to go deeper into games that season.
And then he got traded.
While Snell said he “couldn’t be happier to be a member of the Padres,” he was also “pretty sad” to be leaving the Rays:
"This is going to sound corny, but my heart was tied super solidly to Tampa. I was there for 10 years. They believed in me, they drafted me, they built me up. That was my family… I had real relationships with all those people. Then it’s just like … poof!”Blake Snell, The Players’ Tribune"
Now, in the midst of fraught labor negotiations between the league and players, it’s not hard to see Snell’s mindset shifting from fond memories to frustration with the Rays.
The team that drafted him in the first round and built him up didn’t believe in him to compete at the highest level as much as they believed in the analytics. They traded their Cy Young pitcher for more prospects, rather than build upon a team that had gone all the way to Game 6 of the World Series. They’re seemingly content to never win a World Series, so long as the payroll is always low, and the farm system keeps churning out a bumper crop.
You’d be sub-gramming, too.
If you need further proof, Snell also liked several tweets that made his opinions pretty clear: