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Blake Snell Stays in NL West, Signs with Giants

With Snell staying in the division, the National League West could be MLB's toughest division in 2024.

The National League West is making a strong case for baseball's toughest decision, especially with 2023 Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell staying in the division. Snell has reportedly agreed to a two-year deal with the San Francisco Giants for $62 million, with an opt-out after this season. This comes after he reportedly turned down an offer from the New York Yankees that exceeded $150 million.

The Diamondbacks are familiar with Snell, who pitched for the San Diego Padres the past three seasons. In eight career starts against Arizona, seven with San Diego, the 31-year-old left-hander is 5-1 with a 1.11 ERA and a 70/14 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 48 2/3 innings. To say he is a D-back killer is an understatement.

In 2023, he rode a 2.25 ERA and a 31% strikeout rate to take the NL Cy Young despite a high walk rate and overperforming his peripherals by a significant margin. His FIP, xFIP, and xERA sat at 3.44, 3.62, and 3.77 respectively, suggesting that it's very unlikely he'll repeat those numbers in 2024. Another issue for Snell is innings, only twice exceeding 130 innings in his career. He's won the Cy Young in both seasons, but even in both seasons averaged less than six innings a start. 

Snell is no stranger to an accelerated ramp-up, as all of Major League Baseball had to go through it in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. However, this particular case is going to be even tougher as the Giants' season starts in just 10 days. That will impact the amount of innings he can provide early in the year, or he has to make an appearance in the minor leagues to continue to ramp up. 

Four of the five teams have made significant additions to their roster in free agency this winter, which should shape up for an interesting Wild Card race in the 2024 season. While the Dodgers are likely the favorites to take the division, there are three teams that could make a run at a postseason spot between the D-backs, Padres, and Giants. The D-backs were in last year as the final Wild Card while the Padres and Giants both came up just short. It's quite possible that the NL West could carry three teams into the postseason.