Padres Rumors: Could Blake Snell reunite with San Diego as market craters?

Blake Snell is still out there in free agency and now that his price has dropped, could San Diego get involved?

Colorado Rockies v San Diego Padres
Colorado Rockies v San Diego Padres / Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/GettyImages

As the offseason has unfolded into spring training, San Diego Padres fans have been left wondering where all the former Padre studs who left in free agency were going to play in 2024. Seth Lugo and Michael Wacha both landed with the Royals and Josh Hader signed with the Astros, but the biggest name, Blake Snell, is still unemployed with the offseason winding down.

Snell's free agency has been a difficult one. He started off asking for huge money coming of a Cy Young season to the surprise of no one because, well, Scott Boras is his agent and that is what Boras does. However, his market never really developed very much at all due to his asking price, with really only the Yankees having public interest, but not at the dollar figure he was looking for.

Fast forward to today with spring training underway and Snell still does not have a team. The current word is that Snell is now willing to accept a short-term deal at a higher AAV with opt-outs. That change in negotiating position is certain to bring more teams into the fray, but could Snell's price dropping mean he could rejoin the Padres?

The luxury tax is a huge hurdle for a potential Blake Snell-Padres reunion

On the surface, the fit is logical. Snell's asking price is falling, he's arguably the best pitcher available on the market, and the Padres both need another starter and are very familiar with what he can offer. While Snell is not going to be cheap regardless of how long his contract is, getting an ace without having to put forth a long-term deal is a pretty rare thing.

Unfortunately, bringing Snell back is little more than a pipe dream. We have heard all offseason that the Padres are looking to bring their payroll down. They have certainly done that with trading Juan Soto and all of their other free agents leaving, but the bigger issue with a potential Snell deal is specifically with the luxury tax. The Padres' current projected payroll for 2024 sits at over $152 million, but their 2024 luxury tax figure is almost $215 million because of the structure of some of their huge long-term deals, and that is a fundamental (and perhaps insurmountable) problem.

Given the Padres are repeat offenders of exceeding the luxury tax, those penalties increase each year they are over the threshold. With the team trying to cut costs and be more sustainable, one of their team's goals heading into 2024 is to stay under the luxury tax to reset those penalties.

Now could the Padres be convinced to make a move that could take them slightly over the luxury tax? Maybe, especially if the value the team gets in return is especially high. However, signing Snell for $30+ million in 2024 money would put them more than a little bit over the $237 million luxury tax number this year especially with the Yankees still lurking in the Snell bidding.

So would it be nice if things came full circle and Blake Snell was a Padre again? Sure, but fans shouldn't be holding their breath for it to actually happen or to be discussed.

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