Friday, February 2, 2018

What are Yu waiting for?

The calendar keeps sliding closer to the opening of spring training camps, and the free agent market remains agonizingly frozen. And breaking up the jam probably starts with the top pitcher of the market, Yu Darvish.

The Twins have made no secret of their interest in the Japanese right-hander. For a variety of reasons they appear to prefer him to the other top starters on the market (Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb).

Only those directly involved know what has been offered or demanded. My sense of it, which may be misplaced, is:

  • Nobody is offering him what he wants, in contract duration or annual average value.
  • The Twins may well have made the most lucrative offer but aren't bidding against themselves.
  • Darvish may prefer a city with a larger Japanese community.
Well, the first one is almost certainly true. The other two are reasonable inferences from scant evidence.

There are occasional whispers that the Yankees and Dodgers are each trying to clear payroll so they can both meet their goal of resetting their luxury tax payments AND sign Darvish. I don't know how possible that is. For the Yankees, that probably means unloading the Jacoby Ellsbury contract, but:

  • Nobody wants Ellsbury even as a gift.
  • If the purpose of trading Ellsbury is to clear payroll space, a big buydown of it defeats the purpose.
  • Ellsbury has a no-trade clause and apparently would rather be a reserve for the Yanks than a starter elsewhere.
Turning that triangle into a square is pretty difficult geometry, even for Brian Cashman. But it may be that Darvish and his reps are waiting on that possibility.

How long the Twins want to wait on a decision is a good question, one only they have the answer to. One factor may be how antsy the other free agents are getting. There was a report this week that Arrieta is considering holding out into midseason if he doesn't get his price (he's a Scott Boras client). If there's no inclination among the Darvish-Arrieta-Lynn-Cobb foursome to grab the best current offer and be done with it, this standoff may last a while.

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