SAN DIEGO — Blake Snell gave up the ball in Game 6 of the World Series, shaking his head after manager Kevin Cash’s curious pitching change.
With three years left on his contract, Snell hardly considered that could be his final moment as a Tampa Bay Ray.
The San Diego Padres, determined to go all the way, just wanted him that much.
The upstart Padres finalized their acquisition of the ace left-hander from the Rays on Tuesday, sending four prospects in exchange for the 2018 AL Cy Young Award winner.
The Rays will receive right-handers Luis Patino and Cole Wilcox and catchers Francisco Mejia and Blake Hunt — all well regarded youngsters from a San Diego system that’s been stocking the farm for years. The Padres parted with the quartet for a 28-year-old with World Series experience and a youthful confidence that should fit in alongside stars Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado.
Snell gives the ascending Padres an established ace at the front of the rotation as they attempt to catch the Dodgers in the NL West. San Diego is also working to finalize a deal for Chicago Cubs starter Yu Darvish, according to reports from ESPN, The Athletic and others.
“They’re super exciting,” Snell said. “They’re a team that plays with a lot of fun. They’re swaggy and they can swing the bat.”
Snell went 4-1 with a 3.24 ERA in 11 starts during the pandemic-shortened 2020 regular season, then went 2-2 with a 3.03 ERA in six post-season starts for the American League champions.
He pitched spectacularly into the sixth inning of World Series Game 6 against the Dodgers before Cash pulled him after 73 pitches. The move backfired when Los Angeles rallied for a 3-1, Series-clinching victory.
Snell stood behind Cash’s decision and reiterated that support Tuesday.
“I respect him and I’ve always trusted him,” Snell said. “He knows how to win. We got to the World Series because we won.”
Snell said he was stunned and saddened to leave Tampa Bay. He anticipated the Rays trading him before his contract expired, since the small-budget franchise was unlikely to commit to a long-term deal. But he hardly expected the move to come this soon.
“The Padres really wanted me and they were persistent and I’m happy about that,” Snell said. “But it is something I am sad about.”
With a young and talented team that features Tatis at shortstop and Machado at third base, the Padres finished with the second-best record in the National League this year at 37-23 — six games behind Los Angeles — and made the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
San Diego’s injury-depleted rotation was in shambles when the post-season arrived, but the Padres managed to get past St. Louis in the first round before they were swept in three games by the Dodgers in the Division Series.
Mike Clevinger, acquired from Cleveland in August, isn’t expected back from Tommy John surgery until 2022, but the Padres have other quality starters in Dinelson Lamet, Zach Davies and Chris Paddack. Left-hander MacKenzie Gore is one of baseball’s top pitching prospects, the jewel of a deep farm system.
“This team can play and we’re going to be chasing a World Series, which is obviously the most exciting piece to this whole thing,” Snell said.
Among all left-handed starters in the majors last year, Snell ranked first in strikeout percentage (31%) and sixth in ERA.
“This acquisition is in line with our overall strategy to build a consistently winning ballclub for the great city of San Diego,” Padres owner Peter Seidler said. “I welcome Blake to the Padres and know he will enjoy playing for our enthusiastic and supportive fans in 2021 and beyond.”
Snell has three years and $39 million remaining on a $50 million, five-year contract he signed with the Rays in March 2019. He’s owed $10.5 million next year, $12.5 million in 2022 and $16 million in 2023 — bargain prices for one of baseball’s best pitchers.
Patino may compete to take Snell’s vacated spot in Tampa Bay’s rotation in 2021. The 21-year-old from Colombia is among the top pitching prospects in baseball with a hard fastball and plus slider. He made his big league debut in 2020 with 10 relief appearances and one start, going 1-0 with a 5.19 ERA. He struck out 21 but walked 14 over 17 1/3 innings.
Wilcox is a 21-year-old who was taken in the third round of the 2020 draft from the University of Georgia. At 6-foot-5, Wilcox has shown outstanding stuff but has struggled at times with his control.
Mejia, 25, became San Diego’s primary catcher during the 2019 season, when he hit .265 with eight homers in 79 games. A left thumb injury limited him to 17 games in 2020. Mejia has been among the game’s most promising young catchers since making headlines with a 50-game hitting streak in the minor leagues, although questions remain about his defensive reliability.
Hunt is a 22-year-old who spent 2019 in Class A before the 2020 minor league season was wiped out by the coronavirus. He batted .255 with five homers in 89 games for the Fort Wayne TinCaps two seasons ago.
Mixed Martial Arts-Door is open for YouTube’s Paul brothers in MMA
Logan and Jake Paul would make great Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters, Bellator president Scott Coker has said as he targets exhibition matches featuring the YouTube personalities such as the former’s boxing bout against Floyd Mayweather.
Logan Paul went the distance, surviving eight rounds against unbeaten (50-0) five-division world boxing champion Mayweather in an exhibition on Sunday at Miami’s Hard Rock stadium.
USA Today reported the fight brought in one million pay per view buys with $50 million generated from sales in the United States.
It was only the second fight of Paul’s career, while his brother Jake has fought in three professional boxing matches, beating former MMA fighter Ben Askren in April.
Critics have labelled the bouts a sideshow due to the lack of sporting credibility of the duo, who made their names as social media personalities and have millions of subscribers on YouTube.
However, Coker told Reuters the brothers have impressive physiques and the door is open for them to move into MMA.
“I met with Logan Paul about two years ago and I’ve spoken to Jake Paul’s manager and Jake on a zoom call recently… The one thing I said was hey, if you want to do MMA we would love to promote you guys,” the 58-year-old said in a Zoom interview.
“These guys are young, athletic, strong and you saw the fight on Sunday night these guys they came and did their work.
“Mayweather couldn’t finish him and I know he tried, I heard he wanted to knock this kid out so bad,” he added.
“When I heard both had high school wrestling backgrounds in Ohio, which is a prominent wrestling state in the U.S., it really made me interested in pursuing them in some super fights in Mixed Martial Arts – and that door is continually open.”
Bellator, owned by Viacom, is gearing up for a busy month of events, starting with Bellator 260 on Friday with the headline fight between reigning welterweight world champion Douglas Lima and the undefeated Yaroslav Amosov.
However, super fights and exhibitions are where Coker is targeting a younger audience.
“My 14-year-old niece, I told her I was going to the Logan Paul fight and she thought that was the greatest thing,” he said.
“She asked me who he was fighting and I said Floyd Mayweather and she said ‘who’s that?’ – I thought wow, she doesn’t know boxing, she doesn’t know MMA, she’s just a 14-year-old girl on the internet doing what they do.”
As the sporting world gears up for the delayed Tokyo Olympics starting in July, Coker believes MMA will feature in future Games.
“When you think about mixed martial arts, what you’re talking about is boxing, wrestling, judo, taekwondo, karate – those are all Olympic sports,” he said.
“Why wouldn’t mixed martial arts eventually get into the Olympics because six out of the seven disciplines MMA is known to use really is already there.
“There’d be a lot of details to work out but to me I think it will happen, it’s just a matter of time.”
(Reporting by Christian Radnedge,; Editing by Ed Osmond)
Montreal will host the 2024 world figure skating championships
The championships will return to Montreal from March 18-24, marking the 11th time Canada has staged the event.
“Skate Canada has a proven track record of holding successful ISU events and we are looking forward to bringing the world’s best skaters to the fantastic Canadian city of Montreal,” said Debra Armstrong, CEO of Skate Canada, in a statement.
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)
Andreescu splits with coach Bruneau after French Open exit
World number seven Bianca Andreescu on Tuesday announced she has split with longtime coach Sylvain Bruneau, a week after falling in the first round of the French Open.
The pair had worked together for four years as Andreescu made her breakthrough with three titles in 2019, including the U.S. Open.
“It is with a heavy heart that I would like to inform my fans that my long time coach, mentor and friend, Sylvain and I, have mutually decided to end our incredible coaching relationship,” Canadian Andreescu wrote on Twitter
“Our friendship will live forever … I am very grateful for everything we accomplished together and all of our great memories.
“Sylvain was more than a coach… he is family.”
Andreescu, 20, returned to action at this year’s Australian Open, having missed 15 months due to a knee injury.
A positive COVID-19 test subsequently ruled Andreescu out of both Madrid and Rome before an abdominal injury forced her to pull out of Strasbourg at the quarter-final stage.
Her most recent appearance at Roland Garros ended with a 6-7(1) 7-6(2) 9-7 defeat by Slovenia’s Tamara Zidansek.
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)