It was reported Monday morning that Yu Darvish has a five-year offer on the table:
Yu Darvish has at least one five-year offer on the table, according to a source, but nothing yet has enticed him to take the plunge. It's uncertain if the years or the $$ are the hangup -- or both. #Cubs, #Twins, #Rangers, #Dodgers, #Brewers are all believed to be in the mix.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) January 22, 2018
We don’t know who made that five-year offer, nor do we know how much money it’s for. Or, maybe it’s more than one five-year deal on the table, as Jerry Crasnick says “at least.”
And maybe one of those offers is from the Cubs, because Monday evening, the Associated Press reported that they are in talks with Darvish:
The Chicago Cubs are having active talks with free agent Yu Darvish, hoping to add the right-hander to their rotation as they try for a second championship in three seasons.
A person with direct knowledge of the discussions confirmed the talks to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday night because there was no agreement in place. The Texas Rangers, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees also have expressed interest in Darvish.
Earlier Monday, the Cubs were reported to have signed catcher Chris Gimenez to a minor-league deal with a non-roster invitation to spring training. Much was made of the fact that Gimenez caught 12 starts for Darvish in 2014 with the Rangers, but that’s probably not going to be a deciding factor for Yu.
What kind of five-year offer could the Cubs put together for Darvish that would make sense financially for the pitcher, as well as keep the Cubs under the luxury tax (since they seem determined to do so)?
What if it looked something like this:
2018: $30 million
2019: $30 million
2020: $30 million
2021: $20 million vesting option (with buyout)
2022: $15 million team option (with buyout)
That’s a five-year, $125 million contract if he played for the Cubs for all five years and produced. If Darvish isn’t good enough in Year 3 of that deal, it would protect the team by allowing a buyout. Same for Year 4.
Front-loading the deal like that would do two things: first, it obviously would give Darvish more money up front, while protecting the Cubs in what could be decline seasons. Front-loaded deals are less common than they used to be, but in this situation, it just might work.
And it would also make the AAV of the deal $25 million for “cap” purposes, and based on my updated payroll article last week, that AAV would still give the Cubs more than $10 million for a midseason acquisition. Heck, it could leave enough money to sign Alex Avila, which would mean Gimenez would back up Victor Caratini at Iowa and be ready in case of injuries.
Who knows? Maybe one of the five-year deals reported by Crasnick has been made by the Cubs, and it’s structured somewhat along those lines. What I’ve posted here is a “best guess” that would give Darvish money along the lines of what he might be looking for, and still leave the Cubs flexibility.
I get the sense that the 2018 Great Free Agent Logjam might be breaking soon, and that Darvish might be the one to break it. You all know I’d love to see him in the Cubs rotation. Hopefully, this (or some deal like it) happens soon.