Articles out of Japan are a tough one, because Google Translate does even more poorly than it does with western languages.
But when Nikkan Sports tweets this out, I’ve gotta do my best:
— 日刊スポーツ (@nikkansports) December 15, 2017
Even without the translation, you can tell this is about Yu Darvish and the Cubs. A translation of Google Translate (seriously, you kinda have to do some translating of the translation to make sense) suggests that the Cubs have emerged as the “dominant candidate” for free agent righty Yu Darvish.
Although the Cubs have always been thought to be at the periphery of Darvish’s free agency, long having been a fan of his, they were not expected to be bidders at the top (six years, $150 million? Maybe?) of his market. So this report is a surprise, and I will thus hold back on any explosions of WHOA NO WAY DUDE CHECK THIS OUT! until we at least get a clearer translation, and/or until we get a stateside confirmation of the Cubs’ pursuit.
I will update when I have more information. UPDATE: One person indicates their reading of the article is essentially the same as Google Translate:
My wife is Japanese and confirms that the article says that the Cubs are attempting to sign Darvish.
— Will Gibson (@WillGibsonMLC) December 15, 2017
It’s possible that Darvish has found the market lacking, and if Alex Cobb is pushing for significantly more money than expected, perhaps the Cubs elected to engage Darvish more seriously. There are some concerning trends in his peripherals, but it’s not as if he’s not still a top 20/30 starter in the league. We earlier discussed his Steamer projections for 2018:
Stats: 179.0 IP, 3.81 ERA, 3.69 FIP, 3.7 fWAR
I genuinely don’t know if the Cubs are going to dip their toe into the deep end of free agent starting pitchers, but if they were to, Yu Darvish would probably be there guy. The projections are fairly kind. In terms of ERA, FIP, and WAR, Darvish’s projections for 2018 are even stronger than 2017. He does come up a little shy on the inning count, but it’s rare that you see any starting pitcher projected for 200+ innings these days. Perhaps the most exciting projection for next season is that he’s not expected to lose anything on his excellent strikeout (27.2%) or walk (7.6%) rates.
They’re not traditional “ace” quality numbers, but they’re certainly quality projections, and similar to the sort of numbers Darvish put up last year, when he was among the top 20 or so pitchers in baseball.