Rumors have swirled throughout the offseason that the Chicago Cubs are trying to better set themselves up for the future, and the opening salvo was launched Tuesday as the team traded pitcher Yu Darvish and catcher Victor Caratini to the San Diego Padres for pitcher Zach Davies and a quartet of minor league prospects.
The Cubs also sent cash considerations to the Padres to complete the trade, paying a portion of the remaining salary on Darvish's contract.
In exchange, the Cubs will receive shortstops Reginald Preciado and Yeison Santana in the deal, along with outfielders Owen Caissie and Ismael Mena.
The deal has been talked about for several days, and even after the Padres acquired pitcher Blake Snell from the Tampa Bay Rays, they still were in hot pursuit of Darvish, and they landed their man on Tuesday, sending a crop of young prospects to the Cubs.
Darvish, who finished as the runner-up in this year's National League Cy Young Award voting, posted an 8-3 record with a 2.03 ERA in 12 starts with the Cubs. He still has three years left on the six-year pact he signed with the Cubs prior to the 2018 season, and the Cubs are expected to save nearly $60 million in the deal over that time.
Caratini, who served as Darvish's primary catcher, batted .241 last season with one home run and 16 RBI's, and will likely continue to serve as a reserve player behind the plate and at first base for the Padres.
The Cubs will hope to get big innings from Davies in the coming season, as the team is dealing with a massive overhaul of its pitching staff. Davies posted a 7-4 record and a 2.73 ERA last season, and registered 63 strikeouts in the shortened season.
With Jose Quintana and Jon Lester both potentially gone, the Cubs' rotation is short on veteran talent, and Davies will be looked to as an innings eater for the club.
Of the prospects in the trade, none have had an at-bat beyond Rookie League ball, including Santana. He did have a strong year with the Padres' Rookie League team in Arizona in 2019, with a .346 average, three home runs and 30 RBI's.
Preciado, 17, is touted as a strong switch-hitter who could further develop his power as he grows stronger. He was also praised for his contact ability, and is ranked as the 11th-best prospect in the Padres' system, the highest ranking of any of the four prospects the Cubs received.
Caissie, a second-round pick of the Padres in the 2020 draft, is another raw power prospect, with scouts praising his arm from the corner outfield spots, according to MLB Pipeline.
Mena is also praised for his defense in scouting reports, and he could project as a top-of-the-lineup hitter thanks to his baserunning and his contact ability on the offensive side of things.