The pool of this winter’s free-agent starting pitchers is headlined by Jake Arrieta and Yu Darvish, with Alex Cobb among the the second- and third-tier options. While Arrieta and Darvish are certainly talented pitchers, both are entering their age-32 season.
Beyond their age, each right-hander has their share of concerns. Arrieta battled hamstring tightness and consistency issues this season, while Darvish didn’t hit his stride until late in the year with the Dodgers.
He carried that momentum into the postseason but saw it come crashing down in a pair of World Series outings. Nonetheless, Darvish has reportedly drawn interest from the St. Louis Cardinals and Minnesota Twins.
Minnesota has also been linked to Arrieta. But according to Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball, the Twins may have Darvish as their top target:
Darvish and Arrieta are in a class by themselves on the free-agent market, and while the Twins like both pitchers, there are hints Darvish is No. 1 on their list and Arrieta perhaps No. 1A.
In time with the Texas Rangers and Dodgers, Darvish went 10-12 with a 3.86 ERA, 3.83 FIP and 1.16 WHIP in 31 starts. This season was his first full year since undergoing Tommy John surgery.
The Twins don’t profile as a club that would make the necessary financial commitment to sign Arrieta or Darvish, but there is momentum to build upon. The Twins saw a 26-game turnaround from 2016, finishing 85-77 and reaching the American League Wild Card Game.
They boast a young core and Manager of the Year candidate in Paul Molitor.