To me, this seems like a meaningful tidbit in both the ongoing Yu Darvish free agent pursuit, as well as the overall market (particularly on the starting pitching side, which seems to be waiting on Darvish).
Ken Rosenthal reports that Darvish is “believed to be weighing multiple $100 million-plus offers.” Rosenthal offers this in the context of a discussion of the reticence of Scott Boras to move forward with his 15 free agents (Darvish is not among them), but I think the point still stands. It’s confirmation of an earlier report by Jon Heyman that Darvish has received multiple $100+ million offers – the second part of the Heyman report, unconfirmed by Rosenthal, is that Darvish is still seeking something closer to Stephen Strasburg’s seven-year, $175 million contract (which is clearly not going to happen at this point).
Particularly in light of MLB’s “free agents have nine-figure offers” misstep yesterday, I think it’s a pretty important to have confirmed that Darvish is one of those guys, and there isn’t going to be some insane, jaw-dropping, wow-this-market-is-effed deal coming at the end of this. Darvish is going to get a nine-figure deal – and the hopeful part of me hangs on that word “weighing,” like he’s making a decision – it’s just a matter of when he decides to pull the trigger and/or when a team decides to step up.
As for when that happens, well, we already pretty much know the holdups if we extrapolate from the reporting: none of the interest teams has put forward a six-year-plus offer that looks too good not to accept, with the Twins and Brewers believed to be at five years, and the Cubs believed to be at four years (and my suspicion is that they’re right around that $100 million mark). Meanwhile, Darvish still has his heartstrings pulled by the Dodgers and Rangers (and maybe the Yankees), so while he’s waiting on his preferred offer (in terms of size) anyway, he might as well wait on whether those teams can move some salary and make a more serious run at him.
Thus, as we’ve said, unless there’s a big money trade that materializes involving one of those teams, or unless a surprise injury like Ervin Santana’s moves the offer needle, the only thing that could possibly apply pressure to any of the sides in this thing is the impending arrival of the season. Sure, the season is still a month and a half away, but pitchers – far more than hitters – need a lot of ramp up time. Moreover, when a significant player is joining a new club, you want them to have as much time as possible to grow comfortable in their new setting, with their new teammates, and with their new coaching staff (and vice versa). I don’t think that’s a zero-impact factor, and so I truly believe the arrival of pitchers and catchers reporting dates across baseball next week should apply some pressure to these pitchers and these teams.
Of course, given the state of acrimony over the perception of lowball offers right now, maybe that pressure won’t be enough to get a deal done.