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Blake Snell trade shows us exactly what Pablo López is worth

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Despite their obvious differences, Snell and López have similar trade value right now.

Philadelphia Phillies v Miami Marlins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Former AL Cy Young award winner Blake Snell is reportedly on the move. Not to the Marlins, as I advocated for following the World Series, but to the Padres.

Here’s the haul that the Rays are receiving for Snell:

The hypothetical Marlins package I put together two months ago consisted of left-hander Trevor Rogers, second baseman Isan Díaz and outfielder Peyton Burdick. That trio carried a combined $46.8 million in surplus value, according to Baseball Trade Values (BTV). Instead, Tampa Bay pressured the win-now Padres into “a slight overpay”—Patino/Mejía/Wilcox/Hunt are valued at $60.9M.

Snell-to-the-Padres isn’t official yet (pending physicals). Perhaps more details about the negotiating process will come out soon, but there are currently no indications that the Marlins were seriously involved.

Even so, this blockbuster got me thinking about Pablo López.

MLB regular season stats since the start of 2019:

  • Snell—3.96 ERA, 3.65 FIP, 1.25 WHIP, .709 OPS against, 3.3 fWAR in 157.0 IP (34 GS)
  • López—4.59 ERA, 3.88 FIP, 1.22 WHIP, .716 OPS against, 3.2 fWAR in 168.2 IP (32 GS)

(Bonus stat: both are listed at exactly 6-foot-4, 225 pounds)

Had he been employed by any other organization, Snell would have been pitching deeper into his starts, though likely to the detriment of his run prevention.

Miami Marlins v Tampa Bay Rays
Snell allowed seven runs in his 10 innings pitched vs. the Marlins last season
Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

There are obvious differences between them. The lefty Snell has elite swing-and-miss ability with his breaking balls, set up by the way that he consistently gets ahead in the count; the righty López rarely throws breaking balls, leaning heavily on his changeup to induce ground balls. Snell, entering his age-28 season, is guaranteed $40.8M over the next three years. López, who’ll be 25 in March, is not arbitration eligible yet. He has one extra year of club control compared to Snell and is on track to earn significantly lower salaries than him over that span, even if he comes close to sustaining his success from 2020. Projection systems ZiPS and Steamer agree that Snell (3.5-4.0 WAR range) should be more valuable in 2021 than López (2.5-3.0 WAR).

However, all things considered, MLB front offices probably value them similarly right now. Snell went for a $60.9M BTV package, right? As of Dec. 28, the site approximates López’s surplus value at $63.0M.

The specific teams potentially pursuing López would be different from those who were in the Snell sweepstakes. And presumably, the Marlins would prioritize a return that’s heavy on offensive reinforcements. Just speaking generally, the Venezuelan right-hander belongs in the same value tier.


I don’t believe that the Marlins are actively seeking to trade López. If anything, they should be in the market to add another major league-ready starting rotation option before next season begins. As currently constituted, López would be the second-most experienced starter on the 2021 team, trailing only Sandy Alcantara. Being so devoid of veterans seems like a dangerous approach to a full-length season.

Just remember, López is a holdover from the Jeffrey Loria era. He can be a hard worker and an ideal ambassador to the community on an affordable contract, and even that doesn’t ensure he’s in the Marlins’ long-term plans.