The Twins “seem determined” to sign one of the top starters on the free-agent market and are showing increased optimism about their chances of landing right-hander Yu Darvish, reports La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Minnesota thinks that Darvish’s relationship with GM Thad Levine and their emerging young core of position players will work in their favor in trying to lure Darvish to Minneapolis. That said, it doesn’t sound as if anything is close on the Darvish front, either. One Twins exec opined to Neal that Darvish could yet take another month to make his decision. Wherever he signs, Darvish’s contract will all but certainly represent a would-be record commitment for the Twins in free agency; the Twins have never signed a free agent for more than Ervin Santana’s four-year, $55MM contract, though Darvish seems unlikely to top the Twins’ franchise record for a contract (Joe Mauer’s $184MM extension coming off his MVP 2009 campaign).
More out of the American League…
- Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto chatted with Larry Stone of the Seattle Times about his aggressive and active approach on the trade front, refuting the notion that he’s torn down the team’s farm system (a minor league system that was poor when he inherited it in the first place). “We have not emptied the farm system to go acquire veteran players to make a run at a postseason,” says Dipoto. “…[W]e have effectively moved players around the league to acquire players that are in their prime who are under team control, almost all of whom are in their 20s.” Indeed, Stone points out that the Mariners have quietly become the second-youngest team in their division, with only a few notable stars (Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano) much beyond the age of 30. “There are more ways to rebuild than ripping it down to the studs,” Dipoto says of his efforts to build a younger roster. I’d highly recommend a full read-through of Stone’s column, which is packed with quotes from Dipoto that provide insight into the Mariners’ process and his decision-making.
- The Orioles have made surprisingly minimal efforts to extend second baseman Jonathan Schoop, writes Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. If the O’s don’t approach Schoop about a long-term deal prior to the start of the 2018 season, they’ll be in a similar spot with him to the one they face with regard to Manny Machado right now, Encina observes. MLBTR projects Schoop to top $9MM in salary this coming season, so if he enters this year without an extension, there’ll be little cause for him to seriously entertain a long-term deal next winter when he’s just one year removed from hitting free agency in advance of his age-28 season with more than $15MM already in his back pocket. Encina, though, points out that the O’s haven’t brokered an extension with any of their young potential core pieces since Adam Jones in 2012, instead shelling out massive commitments to re-sign Chris Davis and (to a lesser extent) Darren O’Day and Mark Trumbo in free agency. Of course, it’s also worth noting that they likely dodged some bullets by eschewing such contracts for players like Chris Tillman and Matt Wieters.
- The Tigers preferred the package of prospects that the Mets were willing to offer for Ian Kinsler to the package they received from the Angels, writes Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press. However, Kinsler would only waive his no-trade clause to approve a trade to the Angels, forcing GM Al Avila’s hand. Though Avila could’ve waited, Fenech opines that the GM made the right call to act when there was a trade scenario on the table rather than to wait for something unforeseen to arise. Meanwhile, Kinsler tells Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register that Justin Upton has been recruiting him since being traded to the Angels in August, and the Halos’ success in the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes caught his attention as well: “Making moves this winter to push for the next level … That motivates a player like me.”