In an essay published by The Players' Tribune on Thursday, Snell said it took a while to process the December trade after reaching the World Series in Tampa.
"I have to be honest," Snell wrote of the trade. "In that moment, and even for a few weeks after, there was a huge part of me that was just really, really sad. This is going to sound corny, but my heart was tied super solidly to Tampa. I was there for 10 years. They believed in me, they drafted me, they built me up. That was my family."
San Diego sent four prospects to the Rays in order to acquire Snell, who remains under contract until 2024.
The 2018 American League Cy Young-winner spent five seasons with the Rays and understood how the team operated. Because of its propensity to develop—or re-develop—prospects and stars before selling high on its players, Snell said some of his strongest relationships were with the security guards, clubbies and janitors at Tropicana Field.
Those are the people he didn't get a chance to give a proper farewell to, and it's unclear when he'll see them again. The Padres don't play the Rays this season.
"I had real relationships with all those people," Snell wrote. "Then it's just like … poof! I may never see some of them again. No matter how awesome and fun and incredible the new team is that you're going to … that stuff, the friendships and relationships, having that stuff disappear, it's just….It's not easy."
That's not to say Snell isn't excited for his future.
The ace said he's moved forward, has prepared himself for San Diego and is ready to get back to the World Series. He's already begun forming bonds with Manny Machado and has reconnected with former Rays teammate Tommy Pham. All that's left to do is prove what the roster is capable of.
"It couldn't be more perfect," Snell said. "Because this team … they have fun. They play with swagger, and confidence. And I'm all about that."