Rays’ Blake Snell speaks his mind like no one in New York can

ARLINGTON, Texas — If Blake Snell winds up in New York at some point during his active athletic career, I’m pretty sure he’d be good for either the Yankees or the Mets.

I am 100 percent certain he’d be great for The Post.

The left-hander, who will start Game 2 of this World Series for the Rays at Globe Life Field on Wednesday night, ranks as good enough a pitcher to have won the 2018 American League Cy Young Award. He also ranks as compelling enough a quote to regularly draw headlines, and not the types that would make him a bad teammate or employee or any such liability.

“I just think a lot of people don’t talk about us because there’s other teams to talk about,” Snell said Tuesday before Game 1, “but when you look at this team, it’s a very fun team to watch, very fun team to talk about. We just don’t have the [Mike] Trouts or things like that, or the [Mookie] Betts and [Cody] Bellingers and [Clayton] Kershaws. We don’t have that just because the hype around Tampa isn’t as big as it is in LA for obvious reasons.”

Snell, a native of Seattle whom the Rays drafted out of high school in 2011, 52nd overall, doesn’t provoke like Trevor Bauer. He merely speaks without a filter, which makes him quite quotable and likeable.

Last week in San Diego, Rays manager Kevin Cash lifted Snell in the fifth inning of ALCS Game 6, and the move backfired, the Astros stomping on reliever Diego Castillo to record their third straight win and tie things up. With the Rays facing a collapse on par with the 2004 Yankees, Snell didn’t hide how he felt about the move.

“Disappointed, for sure,” Snell said. “I felt really good. I felt locked in. I felt like I had a good game plan against that lineup. It’s just frustrating. I wanted to go deep into that ballgame and I was very confident with everything that I had going. Even with the walk [to Yuli Gurriel] and the ground ball [an Aledmys Diaz single], I still felt very, very, very, very confident that I was going to get through that lineup.”

Imagine if the Yankees’ J.A. Happ had been that open about being asked to relieve Deivi Garcia in ALDS Game 2? He would’ve made our back page, that’s for sure. Yet when I asked Cash whether he had to clear the air with Blake in any way afterward, Cash said, “We tried to address it. At the end of the day, you don’t want the guy to want to come out of the game. … I think that’s what makes him good.”

Snell also made waves during the pandemic shutdown when he stated, “Y’all gotta understand, man, for me to go [play], for me to take a pay cut is not happening, because the risk is through the roof. It’s a shorter season, less pay. I gotta get my money. I’m not playing unless I get mine, OK? And that’s just the way it is for me.”

I criticized Snell at the time for being tone-deaf, and I added that he made a very valid point, one that defined the players as they understandably refused to take less than a full day’s pay for assuming the risk of contacting COVID-19. Having dealt with him multiple times since this controversy, I now better appreciate that Snell is simply a chill guy who calls them like he sees them. What he lacks in tact, he makes up for in honesty.

When I asked Snell whether he always has been this open, he said, “I think it’s evolved over time in the face of the media, for sure. But with my friends and teammates, I’ve always been this way. The local media can tell you I was a pretty tough cookie to start. A pretty tough interview, too.”

He has improved, just like on the mound. The Rays have him signed through 2023, so this isn’t a drum-pounding for an upcoming free agent. Consider more of a professional yearning for someone who probably would help a New York team and definitely would help a New York journalist.

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