It took over three months, but the premier free agent in this year’s class finally came off the board Saturday. Right-hander Yu Darvish agreed to join the Cubs on a six-year, $126MM guarantee that includes an opt-out clause after 2019. As you’d expect, a bevy of media reactions to the agreement have come in over the course of the day. Here’s a look at several…
- When the offseason began in November, Darvish “wasn’t really” on Chicago’s radar, Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic reports on Twitter. However, it seems the Cubs benefited from this winter’s slow-moving free-agent market in this case, as it helped lead to a lower-than-expected price tag for Darvish and a major splash for the North Siders. Darvish went into the winter seeking an accord along the lines of Stephen Strasburg’s (seven years, $175MM) or new teammate Jon Lester’s (six years, $155MM), Patrick Mooney of The Athletic details (subscription required).
- While there’s a well-known fondness between Darvish and the Rangers, with whom he has spent the majority of his career, Texas was “not even close” to landing him, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram hears. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News adds that Texas didn’t make an offer to Darvish, and the club wouldn’t even have been willing to guarantee him $75MM in total if it did. The Rangers have a glaring need for a front-end starter, but they’re not close enough to contention to splurge on one, Grant writes. Rangers general manager Jon Daniels, who has a good relationship with Darvish, spoke highly of the 31-year-old on Saturday. “I am very happy for Yu and hope he gets everything he wants,” Daniels said (via Wilson). “He will go down as one of the best pitchers in Rangers history. I expect he’s going to be very good wherever he goes.”
- The Dodgers, Darvish’s other ex-team, made him an offer, but it fell short of the Cubs’, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription required) and Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times report. Contrarily, Jon Heyman of FanRag tweets that LA was “said to have offered in the same ballpark” as Chicago. Although, signing Darvish would have made it difficult for the Dodgers to achieve their goal of staying under the $197MM luxury tax threshold in 2018.
- Likewise, tax concerns stood in the way of a Yankees-Darvish union. New York never even made Darvish an offer, Rosenthal tweets.
- The small-market Twins aggressively went after Darvish this winter, even meeting with him in Texas at some point, per Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press. Their offer to Darvish was for at least five years and $100MM, according to Heyman (Twitter link). The Twins’ courtship of Darvish went for naught, though, perhaps thanks to their dislike for opt-out clauses and a wariness toward giving him a sixth year, writes Berardino, who adds that they could now look to top available starter Jake Arrieta. On the trade front, Rays righties Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi remain on Minnesota’s radar, relays Berardino, though he suggests the Twins would have to give up too much for the former. Meanwhile, Rosenthal reports that there’s a belief among rival executives the Twins could still add a starter via both free agency and the trade market. Along with Odorizzi, he lists free agent Alex Cobb and Astros righty Collin McHugh as hurlers who have drawn Minnesota’s interest.
- The upstart Brewers were part of the Darvish derby, too, and the belief is that they also submitted a proposal of at least five years and $100MM, Heyman tweets. However, Rosenthal hears that Milwaukee’s offer “was not as competitive as reports indicated.” Further, Rosenthal suggests that the Brewers may have primarily been in the running just to drive up the price for the NL Central rival Cubs. Regardless, with Darvish now out of the mix, Odorizzi and the Athletics’ Jharel Cotton are trade possibilities for the Brew Crew, according to Rosenthal.
- In addition to the previously listed Twins and Brewers, the Dodgers and the Phillies are still targeting starters in the wake of the Darvish deal, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets. Philadelphia is aggressively pursuing a short-term addition, per Mark Feinsand of MLB.com. Andrew Cashner, Chris Tillman, Jaime Garcia and Jason Vargas are all possibilities, Feinsand adds.
- Keith Law of ESPN (subscription required) has mixed feelings on the Darvish pact. While it “appears to be a bargain salary,” Law has reservations about the length, contending that it’s one or two years too long, and he doesn’t regard Darvish “a pure ace.” Darvish has become too reliant on his cutter and not reliant enough on his slider, which has led to vulnerability against left-handed hitters, Law observes. However, Darvish may have “some untapped potential right now” if he leans more on his slider, per Law, who at least sees him as a significant near-term upgrade for the Cubs.