The Brewers have made an official contract offer to Yu Darvish, according to reports from Yahoo Japan (hat tip to Kazuto Yamazaki for the translation). Interestingly, the original link was retweeted by Darvish himself, whose response of a thinking-face emoji could be interpreted in a few different ways.
Darvish’s list of suitors had reportedly narrowed to a field of six teams: the Astros, Cubs, Rangers, Twins, Yankees, and an unknown sixth club referenced by Darvish in another tweet. There was speculation that the sixth team could’ve been the Dodgers, Darvish’s most recent club, though perhaps the Brewers were the mystery team, depending on the timing of their offer.
Or, it also isn’t out of the question that Milwaukee has just entered the race for Darvish’s services, perhaps sensing an opening in the Darvish sweepstakes. MLBTR projected Darvish for a six-year, $160MM contract at the start of the offseason, and it’s fair to wonder if the Brewers’ offer was anywhere near that figure given the uncertainty surrounding Darvish’s market. The Astros, for instance, are likely no longer bidding for another top starter now that they’ve landed Gerrit Cole. The Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs, and Rangers were all either hoping to avoid the luxury tax threshold or simply weren’t keen on committing the payroll space required to sign Darvish. With all of these teams somewhat hamstrung in their pursuit of the star right-hander, the Brewers could well have liked their chances in a bidding war against a fellow smaller-market team in Minnesota.
The idea of the Brewers and Twins dueling for top pitchers this offseason was actually posited by MLBTR’s Steve Adams back in early November, with Steve reasoning that both teams had the rotation needs, the long-term payroll room, and a revived hope of contention in 2018 to make the pursuit of a pitcher like Darvish or Jake Arrieta into a reality. Despite some rumors about potential big-ticket signings or trade targets (i.e. Chris Archer), the Brewers have thus far made more modest pitching acquisitions in the form of Jhoulys Chacin and Yovani Gallardo. Milwaukee has also been rumored to be discussing outfielders in trades, perhaps to make another surprising free agent splash in the form of pursuing Lorenzo Cain.