We’re just a few hours away from the announcement of MLB’s Cy Young Awards on Wednesday night, with lefty Blake Snell the prohibitive favorite to take home the hardware in the NL after a spectacular season in which he led all of baseball in ERA (2.25 ERA) and struck out 234 batters in 180 innings.
But that’s not the main item of intrigue when it comes to Snell this winter. There’s also the matter of where he’ll be playing next season, as the soon-to-be 31-year-old hits free agency for the first time coming off of a sensational walk year — one that has him right at the top of the starting pitching market, alongside Aaron Nola and Japanese righty Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Every contender could always use more starting pitching, especially of Snell’s caliber; but who figures to have the best shot at actually landing him? We break down the five best fits for Snell below.
Blake Snell free agent landing spots
5. Los Angeles Dodgers
Andrew Friedman has plenty of experience with Snell, drafting the lefty 52nd overall in the 2011 MLB Draft back when he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers. L.A.’s rotation could very much use a shot in the arm, with Clayton Kershaw not getting any younger, Julio Urias departing, Walker Buehler still recovering from Tommy Jon surgery and Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin sidelined for most if not all of 2024. So why are they only fifth on this list? Largely because of their recent track record: Friedman hasn’t shown a ton of appetite for signing big-name starters to long-term deals in free agency, and there are enough warts in Snell’s profile — his age, his walk rate, the fact that he’s cleared 150 innings just twice in his eight-year career — that it’s easy to imagine the team devoting its resources elsewhere.
4. Boston Red Sox
It’s tough to tell where Boston will go this winter, with a roster stuck between contention and rebuilding and a new chief baseball officer in Craig Breslow. Pitching is the clear-cut need for the Sox in 2024, though, and given Breslow’s background both as a former MLB pitcher and a pitching development guru, it makes sense that Boston would be aggressive in acquiring rotation help this winter. Snell has already proven that he has what it takes to thrive in the rugged AL East, and his ability to suppress contact would make him a good fit for the very hitter-friendly Fenway Park. He might not line up with Breslow’s competitive timeline, though, and who knows whether owner John Henry will be willing to pony up.
3. Arizona Diamondbacks
The D-backs are the sleeper of the starting pitching market: They’ve played in the deep end of this pool before (see Zack Greinke), they have a need in their rotation and some money to burn and they can use their recent World Series run as the ultimate recruiting tool. Given his age and profile, it’s not hard to imagine Snell finding himself lower on the totem pole than guys like Nola, Yamamoto and even Jordan Montgomery or Eduardo Rodriguez; if that’s the case, Arizona could convince him to take their money to stay on the West Coast and pitch for a contender.
2. Philadelphia Phillies
GM Dave Dombrowski is never afraid of making a splash when his team is in win-now mode, and it’s safe to say Philly qualifies after two agonizing playoff exits in a row. They’re also largely set on position players, meaning they can donate most of their resources to filling out the rotation — especially with the potential departure of Nola. Should Nola go elsewhere, and should Dombrowski swing and miss on Yamamoto, Snell might be the next-best option while providing the Phils with the swing-and-miss upside that the rest of their current starting staff lacks.
1. Atlanta Braves
The Braves are going to be as aggressive as anyone this winter, with just about every position player locked up on team-friendly deals and the need for more starting pitching depth (even with the decision to pick up Charlie Morton’s option for 2024). Nola looms as an option here, but Snell would give Atlanta another elite bat-misser alongside Spencer Strider — and the Braves will be less concerned with his downside risk given how desperate they are to erase their past two postseason exits.