Earlier today, we took a look at Alex Cobb’s latest 2018 projections and determined that the volatility of his projected production (from near-top-of-the-rotation type to low-inning let-down) – together with some well-worn macro factors – is leaving his market far behind his own comfort level.
We also noted that the market presence of guys like Yu Darvish could be splitting the attention of potential Cobb suitors like the Cubs. And to that end, a lot has happened recently.
On Saturday, for example, Brett wondered whether we could correctly surmise that Darvish is down to just the Cubs, Twins, and Yankees, which, at the time, seemed like a safe bet, given the Dodgers’ financial restraints and the Astros trade for Gerrit Cole.
And yet, just one day later, the Brewers entered the market in a firm way – with an official offer, confirmed by Ken Rosenthal (no poorly-employed Google Translate necessary):
Source confirms: #Brewers have made offer to Darvish. First reported: Yahoo Japan.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 22, 2018
So, yeah, it’s safe to say that the Brewers are in the fold as a “legitimate potential landing spot for Yu Darvish.” Even if you don’t think he ultimately lands in Milwaukee (I can think of a number of reasons why they probably won’t be the favorites), an official offer this late in the game, with very few competitors, is something that stands out.
But what about those other competitors? Who’s still in? Who’s out? and Who’s on the fence, well, there are a lot of notes to get to …
- According to Nick Cafardo (Boston Globe), the Yankees “do not appear to be in the Darvish hunt,” because of the luxury tax threshold implications. This has mostly been the story for a while, but I think some had wondered if the Yankees might find a way to sneak Darvish into the budget even without trading away Jacoby Ellsbury and his salary. And because an Ellsbury trade seems as unlikely now as it has been all offseason, I think you can mostly filter the Yankees out of the field at this point.
- But the same cannot be said of the Twins, who remain firmly in the hunt. Twins Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey says that the team does not have any major budget constraints to sign a much-needed starter (MLB.com). Now, that may be relative to their typical payroll, but I think it’s safe to say that the Twins are legitimate players for Darvish, and possibly even the Cubs biggest competition. “I’m not going to comment on a specific player, but I see 5-10 pitchers out there who could impact us. We’re not ruling out any of those guys until they’re off the board. Any player we add, there won’t be a budget limitation.”
- And in case you were hoping for some last-minute cold feet from the Twins owner, Jim Pohlad, I wouldn’t hold your breath. “Yes, I’m totally on board with that,” Pohlad said of signing Yu Darvish during a fan forum at TwinsFest. “There are some interesting names and some interesting opportunities there. I’m as intrigued by it as anybody and attracted to it as anybody.” When he was later asked if he was a Darvish fan, Pohlad smiled, asked “Who wouldn’t be?” and called him a “cool guy.” The Twins are in.
- But what about those pesky Rangers? Throughout the offseason, rumors seemed to imply that if the Rangers offered something close, Darvish would sign there on the spot. Indeed, after calling Texas his American home for several years and enjoying plenty of success there, a little familiarity would make plenty of sense. However, the general consensus is that the Rangers are not interested in offering the sort of deal that would get something done, or maybe …
- Jeff Willson (Star Telegram) leaves the door open for any number of signings including Jake Arrieta, Lorenzo Cain, Greg Holland, and, of course, Darvish. He concedes that it would have to be one of those player/agent panic or team/owner caving type deals, but in an already unprecedented offseason anything is possible.
- And it gets a little more concrete than that: “A source said that there has been more activity between Darvish and his suitors, and the Darvish camp is awaiting the next round of calls from the Rangers.” Hmm. Maybe the door is more open than we think. Willson went onto explain that two club officials still think Darvish will get a better offer elsewhere, but if he becomes more open to a creative deal (fewer years, primarily), they’ll be able to accommodate.
So where does this leave us? Well, in my opinion, the most likely landing spots for Darvish are the Cubs, Twins, and Brewers (in that order). However, teams like the Yankees (if they can move some payroll) and the Rangers (if they build up the nerve) are still in the mix, while others like the Dodgers and Cardinals would be something of a wild card surprise.
It’s becoming truly impossible to know at this point – the fact that the Brewers made an initial offer in late January should tell you how unpredictable it all is – but at least there seems to be momentum building toward some kind of resolution.