News this week seemed to have clipped Yu Darvish’s market (realistically) down from the six teams we knew about to just three: the Cubs, the Twins, and the Yankees.
The Dodgers’ ability to add Darvish and stay under the luxury tax cap is nearly non-existent, the Astros traded for Gerrit Cole, and the Rangers all but conceded they were out. If the original list of of six teams was accurate – and remember, Darvish himself at least implied that it was – then we know the final three teams. There’s a part of me that still feels like we can’t rule out pitching-needy teams with money to spend like the Brewers, the Cardinals, and the Angels, but none have been all that publicly connected to Darvish in rumors.
To that end, Jon Morosi writes up the teams interested in Darvish, and he hears that it’s five teams: the Cubs, Twins, Yankees, Rangers, and Dodgers. Again, though, based on what we know about the Rangers’ non-spending plans and the Dodgers’ non-spending ability, each could really only be an option if they (1) dramatically change course, or (2) get an obscene bargain. Neither is impossible, but neither seems as plausible right now as one of the other three teams coming through with an acceptable offer.
And to *that* end, Buster Olney says it’s still very realistic that the team making that offer could be the small market Twins:
There are folks with other teams who believe that the Twins have a real shot to sign Yu Darvish. They've got a ton of payroll flexibility, they have a rotation need, and they're well-positioned to compete in a weakened AL Central in the next few years.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) January 19, 2018
It’s interesting, at the outset, that having “a real shot” necessarily implies that teams like the Cubs and Yankees are far more likely destinations. Setting that aside, the Twins do make plenty of sense for Darvish, and there were reports last month (remember last month? when transactions seemed like they were coming soon?) that he is a “priority” for the Twins.
Although not connected to Darvish by a rumor, necessarily, Morosi adds that the Brewers are a “another team to watch.” You can read his write-up for the full context, but to me, it seems more like figuring out a plausible fit (they make as much sense as the Twins, and the fit is just as good) than reporting interest or negotiations.
So, at the end, until we hear more – or he surprisingly signs with a Mystery Team – I think it’s fair to say that the Cubs, Twins, and Yankees remain the three strong favorites on Darvish. The Yankees would have to get creative financially to get it done, and the Twins would have to convince Darvish to come to a smaller market team. The Cubs seem to be in the best position of all, especially given that they appear content to wait back on any of Darvish, Jake Arrieta, or Alex Cobb.