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Darvish Down To The Studs

The Minnesota Twins, and really baseball as a whole, continue to be in a standoff with free agents across the sport. While some players are balking at long-term deals (yes, you Eric Hosmer) or wanting unrealistic sums of money (yes, you J.D. Martinez and Jake Arrieta), the reality is that players still should end up being signed. For the hometown team no unsigned player is more important than Yu Darvish.
Image courtesy of © Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
At this point there’s been so much written about the fit between the two sides. Jay Jaffe recently noted that Darvish makes too much sense for Minnesota, and MLB.com’s Richard Justice put the Twins atop the list of teams needing to make a move (with Darvish being the suggestion). If Darvish to the Twins were to fall into the “beating a dead horse” category, we would’ve entered the sick and twisted level of punishment a long time ago.

So, what’s the hang up?

On his latest version of The Scoop podcast, Darren Wolfson noted the Twins have made Darvish a formal offer. The belief is that it’s of the four or five year variety, and that they aren’t keen on the idea of going to a sixth year (more on that in a minute). Also, while Chris Gimenez is now trying to recruit Darvish to Chicago, Mike Napoli believes it’s a matter of when (not if) he’ll be with Minnesota. The former Rangers teammate is playing an active role in recruiting the star pitcher to Thad Levine’s new club.

Now back to that sixth year and Darvish bit. Twins Daily’s Tom Froemming had a couple of noteworthy comments regarding Yu recently on Twitter. First and foremost, if the sixth year is what would get the deal done for the Twins and they decide to forego that opportunity, it would be a huge egg-on-face scenario. Despite lacking the ability to play in the big boy pool a vast majority of the time, Minnesota finds itself with a prime opportunity. Positioning themselves to offer something competitors can/will not in order to get a monumental deal done would like a big whiff.

Looking at what the market has to offer, Tom delves a bit deeper. A year from now, the free agent pitching crop isn’t going to yield much more than what Minnesota currently has in front of them. While Clayton Kershaw should headline that class, he’s going to be nowhere within the Twins means (especially with Los Angeles and New York attempting to position for a big spend). That leaves a group headlined by Dallas Keuchel, and rounded out by names like Patrick Corbin and Garret Richards.

Finally and maybe most importantly given the factors at play, Mr. Froemming quips “If the Twins just want to be a cute little small market team that builds from within that's fine. That's actually smart. But then you need to do things like trade away Brian Dozier.” This point makes a bunch of sense as well, and is akin to how the Tampa Bay Rays have operated. In flipping names like David Price, they’ve recouped controllable talent and tried to win outside of free agency. However, the crossroads for the Twins to pick a side is right in front of them.

As has been dissected plenty this offseason, Minnesota views a perfect storm for Darvish to end up in the Twin Cities. A bad division, prospects graduated to regulars, and a payroll begging to be expanded upon. If the Twins are not ready or able to take the plunge on Darvish at this juncture, there’s probably never going to be a time in which they are willing to make this sort of leap. There are only a few times in an organization's cycle of competitiveness that point directly at a certain line of decision-making. For Minnesota, this is it.

As I outlined here recently, there’s no denying that clubs are backing away from long-term big-money deals. The reality is that the back end of those deals leaves you significant opportunity to be exposed when a player begins to fall off a cliff. That being said, it also has to be applied on a case-by-case basis. While there are any number of players available in a given offseason, top-of-the-rotation pitchers rarely hit the market surrounded by ideal circumstances.

Should the Twins land Darvish on a six-year deal, it’s fair to assume that the final (and possibly even the fifth year) would be a wash. That being said, there are more than a few things in their corner here. First and foremost is the commodity that they’re starting with. Darvish is an elite level pitcher now. Assuming he falls off as time goes on, him going from a 3.70 ERA (16/17) to a 4.50 ERA and fifth starter at age 35-36 is hardly a massive failure. By starting with a higher talent level out of the gate, the expectation should be that the bottom wouldn’t drop out as deeply.

Second, payroll being what it is now, and should continue to be, positions the move well. Although Minnesota hasn’t kept up with inflation for years, they also haven’t been in a scenario in which supplementing the internal roster with outside talent would’ve made much difference. Before the emergence of young and controllable talent hit the big leagues, spending would’ve been at a time to do little more than tread water. Now with the roster where it is, 2018 should represent an organizational record in payroll, and that should continue to hold strong for the next several years.

Finally, Minnesota has been waiting for this opportunity for years. No, not the opportunity to sign Darvish, but instead the ability to “go for it,” with names like Buxton and Sano already in place. After having a top farm system for a number of years, those prospects have graduated. If by the time Yu Darvish is 36 or 37, the Twins have yet to accomplish anything, they’ll also be watching both Sano and Buxton stare 30 in the face. At that point, they’ll be established veterans on a roster waiting on the emergence of players headlined by Royce Lewis. This current core of graduated prospects was what the Twins needed to supplement, and the time to do so is now.

At the end of the day, Yu Darvish gives the Twins an opportunity to play in a space they so rarely have been able to. They can bring in an elite and necessary talent, while pushing them forward from a year in which they showed emergence. Seeing future salary relief in 2019 and beyond, Falvey and Levine should be able to continue to pump external talent into their established squad, and it could result in the best opportunity for a World Series run in years. It’s hard to suggest that any one offseason is defined solely on the shoulders of a singular player, but it’s equally hard to understate just how valuable the addition of the former Rangers ace would be.

Four years, five years, or six years, find the competitive advantage necessary to get a "Yes" and take the plunge.

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83 Comments

Are the Tampa Bay Rays really the blueprint to follow? Do they even have two division titles since their inception?
    • USAFChief, Thrylos, Jerr and 1 other like this
I do agree with the premise of the article. We're always pushing things off into the future. We can never sign anyone now, because of how it will affect payroll down the road.

With the team we have in place offensively and defensively, considerinf the depressed market....if this isn't the time to sign a quality player, there isn't a time.
    • USAFChief, Jerr, Twins33 and 10 others like this
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Ted Schwerzler
Feb 08 2018 09:09 PM

 

Are the Tampa Bay Rays really the blueprint to follow? Do they even have two division titles since their inception?

 

It's not a blueprint as much as that operating philosophy is a way to not be stuck in the middle. The Twins not capitalizing on the growth of their core is akin to the Pirates almost but never quite run.

    • Platoon, HawkeyeDodger and MN_ExPat like this
In principal, i agree completely. Payroll is low, overall, manageable even with the Darvish signing, and there is more payroll comjng off the books in tbe next couple of years. Do you realize the Twins could extend Dozier for 4 years, Mauer for 2, and STILL end up cutting their combined pay scheduled for 2018?

The Twins are in a perfect (good) storm of opportunity right NOW.

I'm OK with 5 years. I just don't think you really end up hurting yourself with regression vs expense that 5th season to shy away with what you probably get season's 1-4. I remain very Leary of a 6th season though, especially allowing maximum flexibility for other extensions that will need to take place in the near future. I think a 6th year option could make sense. If he pitches well enough to earn it, even with some regression, you have a viable SP to fill a spot that last season. I'd feel better in a contract that was maybe front-loaded though. Possibly front-loaded AND an optional 6th year that isn't outlandish to reach?
    • Jerr, brvama, sploorp and 5 others like this

Darvish is the only pitcher out there who makes sense for the Twins to sign long-term.If not him, get a serviceable one year guy who is trying to get a bigger contract in 2019.

 

With that said, it may make sense to go with a five year contract with an option for the 6th year.Toss in a bigger pay-out should the Twins not exercise the option and a vesting provision with a good 5th year and maybe they get it done.  

 

In any case, let's get back to playing baseball!

    • sploorp and caninatl04 like this

The situation kinds of reminds of a joke that I have heard many tell over my lifetime. I'm sure most of you have heard it... it goes like this: 

 

A fellow was stuck on his rooftop in a flood. He was praying to God for help.

Soon a man in a rowboat came by and the fellow shouted to the man on the roof, "Jump in, I can save you."

The stranded fellow shouted back, "No, it's OK, I'm praying to God and he is going to save me."

So the rowboat went on.

Then a motorboat came by. "The fellow in the motorboat shouted, "Jump in, I can save you."

To this the stranded man said, "No thanks, I'm praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith."

So the motorboat went on.

Then a helicopter came by and the pilot shouted down, "Grab this rope and I will lift you to safety."

To this the stranded man again replied, "No thanks, I'm praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith."

So the helicopter reluctantly flew away.

Soon the water rose above the rooftop and the man drowned. He went to Heaven. He finally got his chance to discuss this whole situation with God, at which point he exclaimed, "I had faith in you but you didn't save me, you let me drown. I don't understand why!"

To this God replied, "I sent you a rowboat and a motorboat and a helicopter. 

 

Substitute "Rowboat", "Motorboat" and "Helicopter" with: 

 

"Young Productive Core", "Weak AL Central", "Competitive Luxury Tax", "Rebuilding teams all over the landscape", "Manageable Budget Space", "Future Expiring Contracts" and " An Early Injury to Santana" 

 

And it is easy to see that the Baseball Gods want Darvish in Minnesota!!!:)

    • Carole Keller, ashburyjohn, USAFChief and 28 others like this

 

Are the Tampa Bay Rays really the blueprint to follow? Do they even have two division titles since their inception?

They always seem to have no trouble slapping the Twins around.They're also in the same division as the Yankees, so there's that too.

Let's assume Tom is right, and Darvish can deliver about the same ERA that Santana has done, for the next four years. After that, Darvish may fade, but by then the overall situation may be drastically different anyway. Does it make sense to eat the last two years of a six-year deal if you get four good years? That's like giving Darvish a $40 million dollar signing bonus that he collects at the back end. 

 

It's the 2018 season, which may still be a year from when the Buxton/Sano wave nears its peak. Or maybe they'll be hitting on all cylinders this year, in which case it would sure be nice to have a couple aces on the staff. 

 

The final factor is that it ain't my money. It's Pohlad money, which is banking money, which means that the well of cash doesn't really have a bottom. If the Pohlads want to set a dump truck full of hundred dollar bills on fire, they'll never miss a meal. 

 

Go for it, Twins!

    • IndyTwinsFan, nmcowboy and Tomj14 like this
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The Wise One
Feb 09 2018 04:05 AM

 

Let's assume Tom is right, and Darvish can deliver about the same ERA that Santana has done, for the next four years. After that, Darvish may fade, but by then the overall situation may be drastically different anyway. Does it make sense to eat the last two years of a six-year deal if you get four good years? That's like giving Darvish a $40 million dollar signing bonus that he collects at the back end. 

 

It's the 2018 season, which may still be a year from when the Buxton/Sano wave nears its peak. Or maybe they'll be hitting on all cylinders this year, in which case it would sure be nice to have a couple aces on the staff. 

 

The final factor is that it ain't my money. It's Pohlad money, which is banking money, which means that the well of cash doesn't really have a bottom. If the Pohlads want to set a dump truck full of hundred dollar bills on fire, they'll never miss a meal. 

 

Go for it, Twins!

Carl Pohlad made his money from Pepsi (almost none from me), commercial real estate and speculation with United land company and from working with Irwin Jacobs buying then breaking apart companies more so with the banks. 

    • jimbo92107 likes this
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The Wise One
Feb 09 2018 05:04 AM

There was things circulating a while back that Darvish wanted Strasburg type money. When that was universally panned it was Cueto money. 6/130+option or buyout.The mistake made was saying Cueto's name. Cueto is a few months older than Darvish. That he had a great first year of the contract, horrid second year could be noticed by a GM or two. People wonder why there are less large contracts being handed out. George has been long dead, the pizza guy died, Omar the free spending GM has been long fired. The Dodgers went with rational after a few years of Malone. What free spending GM or owner is left? 

    • mikelink45 likes this
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notoriousgod71
Feb 09 2018 05:57 AM

Did I read this correctly? Why would Napoli be trying to lure Darvish to the Twins?

    • Doctor Wu likes this
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BrianTrottier
Feb 09 2018 06:26 AM

 

Did I read this correctly? Why would Napoli be trying to lure Darvish to the Twins?

 

He's expecting to sign a contract with the Twins.

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diehardtwinsfan
Feb 09 2018 06:32 AM

Honestly, I'd just give Darvish the 6th year and get it over with. I get the hesitance, but this is a unique opportunity that won't present itself anytime soon.

    • jimbo92107, Twins33, Riverbrian and 10 others like this
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Tommygun921
Feb 09 2018 06:53 AM
I read an article from a NY writer suggesting the Yankees make Darvish a 6 year offer of 30 mil for first 2 years, 20 mil for years 3 and 4 and 10 mil for years 5 and 6. With opt outs after years 2 and 4. Seems like a good deal for both sides and still puts him at the $120 mil 6 year deal that's been talked about by many.
    • mikelink45 likes this

Jon Heyman in MLB trade rumors has stated that there’s “reason to believe” that neither the Brewers or the Twins are a top choice for Darvish, though, so either team could perhaps need to be more aggressive in order to land him.

It is easy to speculate and say sign him to 5 - 6 - 7 or whatever years, but what does Darvish want?Is it true he has his heart set o Los Angeles?It's not my money, but I sure can anticipate the Mauer like grumblings in years 4,5,6 and in fact, Mauer has not been a bad player, just not playing to his contract.  

 

Hard to keep reading these with enthusiasm.Maybe the worst part of this story is that we might sign Napoli.

 

Did I read this correctly? Why would Napoli be trying to lure Darvish to the Twins?

That one puzzled me too. I know that Napoli's name has been linked to the Twins during this off-season, but that still seems like speculation at this point. Buy why would he be "trying to lure" Darvish to Minnesota? Maybe there is more to this Levine factor than I thought!

    • tarheeltwinsfan likes this

If signing Napoli nets Darvish... so be it. Besides, I keep hearing and reading about how well respected Napoli is around the league by players and coaches, and that brings a whole level of value that is often underappreciated.

 

    • Carole Keller, Jerr, Twins33 and 3 others like this

 

That one puzzled me too. I know that Napoli's name has been linked to the Twins during this off-season, but that still seems like speculation at this point. Buy why would he be "trying to lure" Darvish to Minnesota? Maybe there is more to this Levine factor than I thought!

 

FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!I'M SICK OF TIRED OF IT ALL.Sign Napoli, give Darvish what he wants.I'm over this off season.Time to play ball.

 

But seriously though.Missing out on signing Darvish would be mistake for our boys.Money talks, but maybe he just doesn't want to be here.

    • nmcowboy likes this

I honestly think that Minnesota is Darvish's 2nd choice at best.  Behind LA and maybe even Chicago and Texas.  I just don't get the inclination that he wants to be in Minnesota.  Which is fine.    Unless the real sticking point is he's holding out for the 6th year, which is his right.  Maybe the Twins can make the 6th year a vesting/player/team option.

 

 

What I'm really saying is I just want him to sign somewhere, anywhere.  Preferably with the Twins.  Just to get the logjam of free agents rolling.

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IndyTwinsFan
Feb 09 2018 09:29 AM

 

Honestly, I'd just give Darvish the 6th year and get it over with. I get the hesitance, but this is a unique opportunity that won't present itself anytime soon.

I view a potential 6th year as an opportunity cost to procure a starting pitcher who is every bit as good, if not better, than anyone we now have not named Ervin Santana. If a 6th year is what it eventually takes to get a signature, then I say we should go for it.

 

Of course, that with the understanding that the Darvish link to the Twins wasn't just a negotiating ploy used by his agent.

    • diehardtwinsfan likes this
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IndyTwinsFan
Feb 09 2018 09:29 AM

 

I view a potential 6th year as an opportunity cost to procure a starting pitcher who is every bit as good, if not better, than anyone we now have not named Ervin Santana. If a 6th year is what it eventually takes to get a signature, then I say we should go for it.

 

Of course, that with the understanding that the Darvish link to the Twins wasn't just a negotiating ploy used by his agent.

Should have added Berrios to the list, too.

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RegularJoe62
Feb 09 2018 09:39 AM

I agree that signing Darvish now is a good fit for the Twins. Give him what it takes to close the deal, be it more money for five years, a sixth year, or some kind of player/team option package. 
I also want everyone else who thinks signing Darvish is a good idea to agree not to whine about how his contract is a boat anchor on the team three years from now when his production declines, the way everyone has with Mauer. 

    • diehardtwinsfan and tarheeltwinsfan like this
Darvish throws 6 different pitches. As long as he is not injured he will be atleast a serviceable pitcher the 5th and 6th year of his contract. Just add the 6th year and get insurance on the contract...
    • bdodge22 and olivia11 like this
"Jon Heyman in MLB trade rumors has stated that there’s “reason to believe” that neither the Brewers or the Twins are a top choice for Darvish, though, so either team could perhaps need to be more aggressive in order to land him."

I view this type of info as posturing and leveraging. All things being equal Darvish would like LA or Texas but Minnesota can offer a nice place, good for family, winning environment. He may prefer a place with a larger Japenese population or more media, but as a married with Children man, Minnesota isnt a horrible destination either. He probably views Minnesota as a 6 or 7 on the 10 point scale. LA and Texas as 9s.
    • Sconnie likes this

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