After several months of back and forth negotiations, the Twins have submitted a formal offer to Yu Darvish’s camp, reports Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN in the latest episode of his podcast (audio link, Twins talk starting up at the 2:25 mark and running through 11:00).
Exact parameters of the offer aren’t known, but Wolfson cites multiple sources in reporting that the offer is four or five years in length. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription required) reported yesterday that Darvish has received multiple offers worth $100M+, while Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported earlier today that he has “several” five-year offers. Given all three of those reports, it certainly seems plausible that the Twins have put forth a nine-figure offer to Darvish, which would easily be the largest commitment they’ve ever made to a free agent.
Minnesota, according to Wolfson, remains reluctant to push its offer for Darvish up into the six-year territory. To that end, while Darvish is the top target for the Twins, Minnesota has also remained in touch with the agents for a number of other free-agent starters, ranging from second-tier names like Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn. Other names mentioned by Wolfson include Jaime Garcia, Chris Tillman and Jason Vargas, so the Twins are understandably casting a wide net in the event that Darvish chooses another suitor. Notably, the team hasn’t made an offer to either Lynn or Cobb.
Perhaps more interestingly, Wolfson adds that the Twins are “maintaining pretty regular trade talk” with the Rays about the possibility of acquiring some rotation help, though Tampa Bay remains largely resistant to the idea of parting with coveted top starter Chris Archer. Jake Odorizzi’s name has been connected to the Twins on multiple occasions this offseason, however, and he could yet remain a target for the Twins. (More generally, he adds that the Rays have quite a bit of interest in outfielder Max Kepler, who has been the Twins’ primary right fielder in each of the past two seasons despite the fact that he’s not yet 25 years of age.)
A trade, though, would likely be a more serious option in the event that Darvish signs elsewhere; Wolfson notes that even after learning that Ervin Santana will be out for 10 to 12 weeks following surgery on his right middle finger, the Twins are only looking to fill one rotation spot.
Even with Santana sidelined for as much as the first month of the season, the Twins don’t appear to be in any kind of panic mode. The Athletic’s Dan Hayes wrote yesterday that the Twins believe Santana could be ready on the shorter end of his 10- to 12-week timeline. Even if he takes the full 12 weeks, Wolfson notes that the team will only need a fifth starter two or three times in April, given the large number of off days baked into the early-season schedule.
With Santana on the shelf, the Twins’ rotation will likely consist of whichever free agent/trade target they bring into the mix, in addition to Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson and Adalberto Mejia. The team also has a pair of prospects that have dotted top 100 lists over the past two seasons in Stephen Gonsalves and Fernando Romero, plus veteran Phil Hughes returning from thoracic outlet surgery. Triple-A righties Felix Jorge and Aaron Slegers each saw brief glimpses of MLB action last year as well and could be leaned on for a spot start this coming April. Reliever Tyler Duffey will be stretched back out and given a shot at starting once again this spring as well, Wolfson notes. Righty Trevor May would be another option, though he’s not expected to return until late May, per both Hayes and Wolfson.
Suffice it to say, the Twins aren’t exactly lacking for depth, though the group of arms on which they’ll lean early in the year is, clearly, rife with question marks. A veteran to position at or near the top of the rotation looks all the more like a priority, given that context.