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The Daily Darvish: There’s a new team in on Yu

... a Cubs division rival.

Here’s a photo of Yu Darvish with the Rangers because I’m tired of all the photos of him with the Dodgers. Write your own caption
Patrick McDermott-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, I know. Some of you are tired of hearing about Yu Darvish.

But there was actual news about him late Sunday, to wit:

The link is to a Japanese-language story that claims the Brewers had made Darvish a contract offer. And, it appears that did actually happen:

So... looks like you can add the Brewers to the three teams I figured were at the top of his list, the Cubs, Twins and Dodgers.

Here’s a little more detail from Jon Heyman.

It’s possible the Brewers could offer Darvish more money than the Cubs can; that depends on what their payroll requirements/needs are, and what they budget for players both this year and beyond. This spreadsheet shows the Brewers currently committed to about $69 million for 2018. As you can see, they have a lot of pre-arb players. Their end-of-year payroll for 2017 was about $78 million.

Let’s go back and review what’s happened recently on the Darvish front, in chronological order. Consider this tweet from a week and a half ago:

... and the response from Darvish:

Darvish has been winning Twitter all winter. Good for him. Anyway, I’m reasonably certain that the “one more team” Darvish mentioned was the team for whom he pitched in the World Series, the Dodgers.

So that’s six teams, all told, from 12 days ago. We can probably eliminate the Astros, since they completed a trade for Gerrit Cole after that tweet was sent. Their rotation is full: Cole, Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers and Charlie Morton, plus they have guys like Brad Peacock and and Collin McHugh (the latter two combined for 33 starts for the 2017 Astros) backing up those five. The Astros, winners of 101 games in 2017, will be formidable.

This Boston Globe article by Nick Cafardo Sunday has information that likely eliminates the Yankees. Most of the article is about Scott Boras and his various clients (interesting stuff too), but scroll down and you’ll find this paragraph about Darvish:

Right now, the Yankees do not appear to be in the Darvish hunt. GM Brian Cashman acknowledged the team would have to shed a major contract (read: Jacoby Ellsbury) in order to fit in Darvish and remain under the luxury tax. “I’m very happy with our rotation right now and I don’t think we need to do something unless it makes sense for us,” Cashman said. The Twins, Rangers, and Cubs seem to have a better chance of landing Darvish at this juncture.

Last week, Rangers GM Jon Daniels said his team is likely looking at the type of players Darvish isn’t:

I wouldn’t totally rule out the Rangers. Darvish spent his entire MLB career prior to his trade last summer in their organization, still maintains a home in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, and he even paid for the dinner he and Daniels shared recently:

But if I had to guess, I think it’s down to four teams: Dodgers, Brewers, Twins and Cubs. Which one of those doesn’t belong with the others?

You might say the Twins, but Minnesota is in an interesting position. They unexpectedly made the wild-card game in 2017, improving from 59 wins in 2016 to 85. With Darvish, they’d be well-positioned to contend again, and they don’t have a lot of payroll commitments beyond 2018. They might actually be able to afford to pay Darvish more than the Dodgers and Cubs, who have both gone on record as saying they want to stay under the luxury tax in 2018.

But would the Twins pull the trigger on a big-money deal after they were (mostly) burned by the eight-year contract they lavished on Joe Mauer? The Twins currently have about $105 million committed for 2018, almost half of which is going to three players: Mauer, Ervin Santana and Phil Hughes.

Without any true insider knowledge, it’s hard to handicap this race and figure out who’s most likely to sign him. I do know that I’d very much like to see it be the Cubs. If the Cubs can sign Darvish, their rotation will be among the best in baseball and a signing like this would complete a successful offseason. If the Cubs don’t sign Darvish, I suspect they’ll sit down again with Jake Arrieta.

As always, we await developments.