In a normal offseason, you would not be able to get through a few days of the free agent process without hearing the top dog attached to the biggest spenders in the game, the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers. But, as we’ve seen by now, this is far from a normal offseason.
Specifically, as it relates to the Yankees and Dodgers, we’ve seen cost-cutting maneuvers by the big boys designed to get themselves under the $197 million luxury tax cap for 2018, resetting the penalties they’ve faced for years, and setting them up to blow it back out in next year’s monster free agent class.
For that reason, although you could easily make the case that each team would be happy to slot Yu Darvish into their rotations, you haven’t really seen them attached to him in rumors.
Well, until Ken Rosenthal just dropped them into a rumor round-up at The Athletic, saying that sources indicate both teams are still interested.
Rosenthal acknowledges the challenge of adding a $20+ million player in Darvish while staying under the luxury tax, but offers only that the teams could shed salary elsewhere and/or could give Darvish a longer-term deal to push down the AAV. The latter will only get you so far, and the former is going to be tough with the contracts on the rosters.
As I peruse the luxury tax trackers at Cot’s for the Dodgers and for the Yankees, each team has about $15 million to work with under the luxury tax at present, though they have various lesser needs on the roster to fill out, have to account for bonuses that might accrue during the season (you don’t want to be surprised – or have to do something awkward – when you are suddenly one Kenta Maeda start away from going over the luxury tax), and have to leave room for in-season additions. It’s possible the Dodgers could move Yasmani Grandal and the Yankees could move a small portion of Jacoby Ellsbury’s salary. But, as things stand now, it would be very tough for them to fit Darvish.
And I think everyone knows this, which is a bummer for Darvish and his agent as they work to keep his market from drifting down into that four-year range we talked about yesterday.
That, then, makes you a little suspicious of the timing here, given that Darvish is meeting with teams right now, and I’m sure his agent would love to be able to say that the Dodgers and Yankees are definitely still interested enough to put in a floor on the contract offers from the Cubs, Twins, and Astros.
If the Dodgers and/or Yankees move another contract out, then I’ll take them a little more seriously as suitors. Until then, or unless they totally change course on their luxury tax plans, I don’t see a great fit with Darvish.