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Cubs agree to deal Yu Darvish, Victor Caratini to Padres in seven-player trade, per report

The Padres cap off perhaps the busiest day in franchise history by adding another front-of-the-rotation starter.

Arizona Diamondbacks v Chicago Cubs Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

The Cubs and Padres are in agreement on a deal that will send right-handed starter Yu Darvish and catcher Victor Caratini to San Diego in exchange for right-handed starter Zach Davies and prospects Reginald Preciado, Owen Caissie, Ismael Mena, and Yeison Santana. MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported the news Monday night:

Darvish, a four-time All-Star, bounced back in a major way in 2020 after struggling with injuries and inconsistency during his first two seasons with the Cubs. The 34-year-old finished second in NL Cy Young voting during the coronavirus-shortened season, anchoring the Cubs’ staff with a 2.01 ERA, a 0.96 WHIP, 93 strikeouts, and 14 walks over 76 innings. He tied for the major-league lead with eight wins in 12 starts.

Darvish was the Padres’ third major addition of the day, following former AL Cy Young winner Blake Snell, who was acquired in a deal with the Rays, and infielder Ha-seong Kim, who signed with San Diego after seven seasons with the Kiwoom Heroes of the KBO. Following the addition of the Japanese right-hander, there’s little doubt that the Padres have the best rotation in the majors, as Darvish and Snell join Dinelson Lamet, Chris Paddack, and an extremely intriguing group of young arms such as MacKenzie Gore, Joey Lucchesi, Adrian Morejon, and Ryan Weathers who will compete for the fifth slot in the rotation. That list doesn’t even include Mike Clevinger, who is set to rejoin San Diego’s rotation in 2022 after completing his recovery from Tommy John surgery.

The 27-year-old Caratini, who has struggled behind the plate during his four-year major-league career but provides some defensive versatility and a solid switch-hitting bat, will likely split time with Austin Nola behind the plate in San Diego. He served as Darvish’s personal catcher in Chicago and will presumably continue to do so with the Padres. It will be interesting to see how much rope the Padres give Nola and Caratini, however, since the organization also has Luis Campusano, the third-best catching prospect in baseball as ranked by MLB Pipeline.

You’d be hard-pressed to find an objective observer who doesn’t believe the package the Cubs received was underwhelming for a pitcher who nearly won the NL Cy Young this year. However, the Cubs will be freed of their $59 million financial obligation to Darvish over the next three seasons, and that really seems to be what their biggest priority is this offseason — shedding payroll and preparing for their next chapter.

Davies, 27, has quietly had a very good six-year major-league career despite persistent concerns about his durability due to his lack of size. The right-hander, generously listed at 6-foot and 180 pounds, had a career year during his lone season in San Diego, posting a 2.73 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP with 63 strikeouts and 19 walks over 69.1 innings. The Cubs will likely look to him to co-anchor their rotation along with Kyle Hendricks in 2021, though it’ll be interesting to see if the club also shops Hendricks now that it’s seemingly begun a teardown by dealing Darvish.

None of the prospects the Cubs acquired in the deal were ranked within MLB Pipeline’s top 100 prospects or the Padres’ top 10, and three of the four are still teenagers, with Santana being the oldest of the bunch at 20.

Preciado, a 6-foot-4, 185-pound switch-hitting shortstop, was ranked as the Padres’ No. 11 prospect by MLB Pipeline. He earned the largest signing bonus of any Panamanian prospect in baseball history at $1.3 million, but he’s just 17 years old and has yet to play in a professional game.

Caissie, a 6-foot-4, 190-pound outfielder, was the Padres’ second-round pick in this year’s draft and also has yet to play in a pro game. The 18-year-old is a left-handed hitter with decent power potential and a strong arm that makes him a good fit in right field.

Mena, 18, is — you guessed it — another prospect who has yet to play in a professional game. The left-handed hitter and thrower earned a $2.2 million signing bonus during last year’s international signing period, and he’s believed to have solid power potential, speed, and polished defensive skills in the outfield.

Santana, the only prospect in the deal who has played professionally, is a right-handed hitting shortstop who broke out offensively in the Arizona Rookie League last summer. Santana hit .346/.429/.494 with three homers in 192 plate appearances and is believed to have the defensive skills necessary to stick at shortstop if he ends up hitting enough to reach the big leagues.