Top righty Yu Darvish appears to be destined to change uniforms in the coming days, according to a report from Ken Rosenthal of MLB Network (via Twitter). While the Rangers have been waiting to decide whether to deal the talented starter, Rosenthal says the club is now informing rivals that it will trade him.
Darvish now clearly represents the top rental hurler available on the market. With the Rangers said to be “confident” of achieving a significant return, per Rosenthal, the organization is “actively exchanging names” with interested contenders. With less than four days to go til the non-waiver deadline, then, the report seemingly sets the stage for a bidding war on one of the game’s most accomplished starters.
To be sure, other pitchers of significance that could be traded in the coming days, some with greater trade value. In particular, the expectation remains that Sonny Gray will change hands. But there’s an argument to be made that no other pitcher has so much potential to impact the outcome of the current season.
That said, at thirty years of age, Darvish is hardly pitching at his highest levels. He’s averaging just under ten strikeouts per nine for the first time ever, has surrendered a few more home runs than usual, and carries an uncharacteristic 4.01 ERA through 137 innings. That earned run average ballooned by more than half a run after Darvish was knocked around in his start.
On the whole, as Dave Cameron of Fangraphs explored in detail today, there are some reasons for worry but also signs for ongoing confidence. Darvish is throwing hard and getting about as many swings and misses as ever. He is on track to approach or perhaps exceed two hundred innings for the second time in a full season. And whatever the risks, there will be no long-term contractual entanglements to magnify them.
It seems from this most recent report that rival organizations see enough cause to believe in Darvish to motivate the Rangers to deal him. In terms of possible landing spots, there are quite a few, as MLBTR’s Connor Byrne ran down earlier today.
Texas had reportedly advised other teams that it’d pursue a Wild Card run, despite a marginal position in the standings, if a sufficient return couldn’t be had for Darvish. Instead, it seems, the righty will likely end up on the move — leaving the organization looking to re-tool for 2018. Indications are that Adrian Beltre will remain mostly off limits, though Jonathan Lucroy seems to be on the block and we heard today that relievers Jeremy Jeffress and Keone Kela are available. Pending free agents such as Carlos Gomez and Mike Napoli (the latter’s contract includes a club option) would also appear to be fair game, with the Rangers perhaps now more motivated to deal them given their evident intentions regarding Darvish.