The Padres have an agreement in place to acquire Blake Snell from the Rays. Luis Patiño, Francisco Mejía and prospects Blake Hunt and Cole Wilcox are headed back to Tampa Bay.

It’s a shocking, out-of-the-blue acquisition for San Diego. The Rays were known to be open to offers on Snell, but there had been no indication prior to tonight any deal was particularly close. Snell, 28, is one of the sport’s best pitchers. The 2018 American League Cy Young winner, he has posted a 2.85 ERA across 337.2 innings over the past three seasons. Along the way, he’s struck out 32.1% of opposing hitters, holding them to a .206/.279/.350 slash line. This past season, Snell worked to a 3.24 ERA/4.35 FIP with his typical strikeout and walk numbers.

Snell comes with three seasons of remaining control under the terms of the extension he signed with Tampa Bay in March 2019. He’ll make a bargain $10.5MM salary next season, with respective salaries of $12.5MM and $16MM the following two years (his 2023 figure has potential escalators based on future Cy Young finishes).

Snell’s combination of high-end talent and cheap, long-term control meant the Padres had no choice but to offer an elite package to pry him from Tampa. All four players headed back to the Rays are highly-regarded youngsters, headlined by the 21-year-old Patiño.

Patiño made his MLB debut, mostly working out of the bullpen, in 2020. His first 17.1 MLB innings didn’t go well, as he struggled to throw strikes and only managed a 5.19 ERA. But Patiño had only thrown 7.2 innings above A-ball entering the season and surely would’ve been given more minor-league time in 2020 had there been a season. He was nothing short of dominant in the low minors from 2018-19 and is a high-upside arm who could contribute for Tampa Bay in the near future. Patiño has yet to accrue a full year of service and comes with six seasons of team control. If he were to stick in the majors for good, he’d be controllable through 2026.

Hunt, too, has emerged as a top 100 caliber prospect. The 22-year-old catcher has “been hitting to all fields with power” and shown high-end arm strength in recent workouts, he adds. Hunt placed just 20th among Padre farmhands in Baseball America’s midseason system rankings but seems to have turned a corner in recent months. In 2019, he slashed .255/.331/.381 over 376 plate appearances in Low-A.

While Hunt may have the brighter long-term future behind the plate, Mejía isn’t far removed from being seen as an elite catching talent himself. The 25-year-old ranked among Baseball America’s top 35 overall prospects every year between 2017 and 2019 and headlined the Padres-Indians 2018 Brad Hand blockbuster. He comes with question marks about his aptitude behind the dish and has compiled just a .225/.282/.386 slash line in 362 career plate appearances over the past four seasons. Mejía has two-plus years of service and can be controlled through the 2024 season. He’ll be eligible for arbitration for the first time next winter.

Rounding out the return is Wilcox, a 2020 draftee out of the University of Georgia. Selected in the third round, Wilcox was generally seen as a first-round talent who fell because of a high bonus demand as a draft-eligible sophomore. The Padres signed the 21-year-old for an overslot $3.3MM signing bonus. The right-hander has a high-90’s fastball with a pair of promising secondaries in his slider and changeup, Baseball America noted in their pre-draft scouting report. Wilcox was ranked twelfth among San Diego farmhands by BA.