As the days before the start of Spring Training dwindle away, many premium free agents remain unsigned for the 2018 season. The list of players includes Yu Darvish, who entered the winter as one of two elite starting pitchers on the open market.
Darvish has received a plethora of interest this offseason from the likes of the Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies and Texas Rangers.
The Rangers, however, look like a long shot to sign Darvish. General manager Jon Daniels recently cast doubt on the possibility of a reunion with the right-hander.
Nevertheless, Darvish is still believed to have some viable offers on the table. According to Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball, the four-time All-Star is holding out for a deal in the neighborhood of Stephen Strasburg’s seven-year, $175 million contract with the Washington Nationals:
The Brewers were reported by FanRag Sports to be strongly in the mix for Darvish, who is said by sources to have at least one five-year offer and at least one (and probably multiple) offers for at least $100 million – though he has been seeking something closer to the Stephen Strasburg deal of $175 million for seven.
In May 2016, Strasburg worked out a long-term agreement with the Nationals and inked a seven-year deal that would keep him with the team through his age-34 season.
At the time of the signing, Strasburg was just 27 years old and had a dominant track record that included an All-Star appearance and top-10 Cy Young Award finish. Despite Strasburg’s prior health issues, the Nationals prevented their star ace from reaching free agency with a hefty extension that has worked out well for both parties thus far.
At this point in the offseason, it would be far-fetched to believe that Darvish will receive a similar contract in free agency. Most of the league has focused on clearing payroll and have become reluctant to overpaying players on the wrong side of 30.
That doesn’t bode well for Darvish, as he’ll turn 32 years old in August. Historically, long-term commitments to aging pitchers rarely work out in the end, and teams that dole out such a contract wind up regretting it.
While there’s no timetable on when Darvish will sign, the right-hander may be holding out for the Dodgers to get more seriously involved. The club’s desire to stay beneath the luxury tax threshold may complicate matters, as they would almost certainly have to shed another significant contract to consummate a deal.