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Darvish Or Bust? Kinda...

Posted by Ted Schwerzler , 18 December 2017 · 1,803 views

minnesota twins yu darvish
At the Minnesota Twins embarked upon the offseason, one area of necessary improvement was in finding a top of the rotation starting pitcher. While ace types don't grow on trees, the free agent landscape had a few answers. Now, as the crop of available arms has thinned, it begs wondering whether it's Yu Darvish or bust for the hometown team.

While it's true that the Twins need to address starting pitching, it's also a fact that they need to focus on it at the top. Ervin Santana and Jose Berrios are currently the top two options for the club. As things stand, Santana is a nice 2 or 3 type, while Berrios fits in there with a potential to climb higher. Behind them though, there's a large group of guys that represent back end rotation options. Everyone from Kyle Gibson and Phil Hughes to Trevor May, Aaron Slegers, Dietrich Enns, Adalberto Mejia, and Felix Jorge would be among this bunch. That's a lot of arms that have very similar projections.

For Minnesota to best position themselves coming off a Wild Card season, they'll need to put their best foot forward on the 2018 Opening Day roster. Both the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Angels have gotten significantly better, and Minnesota's best opportunity may be in taking sights at a weak AL Central. Expecting just five starters to make appearances all year is a pipe dream (heck, in 2017 the Twins used 16), so having the depth arms helps. What a glut of back end options doesn't do however, is raise the overall water level.

Unfortunately for Minnesota, it's getting to the point that Darvish may be the only option that moves the needle. Both Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb still remain on the open market. Returning from Tommy John surgery, Lynn posted a 7.4 K/9 along with a 3.43 ERA in 2017. Those marks are down from his career norms, and while he could see an uptick the further he gets from Tommy John, there's no guarantees at 31 years old. Cobb had a healthy 2017, and while it wasn't the 2.82 ERA and 8.2 K/9 he posted in 2013/14, his 6.4 K/9 and 3.66 ERA would be more than serviceable for the Twins. Both of those guys however, check in right at the level of Santana and Berrios.

Of the remaining options (and ruling out Jake Arrieta based upon projected value and asking price), Darvish is clearly a step above the rest. His 3.86 ERA in 2017 isn't glowing, but the 10.1 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 numbers were nothing short of ace-like. He fared significantly better once out of the hitters park that is the Ballpark in Arlington, and Target Field would be more than a welcoming home. He'll also be further removed from Tommy John surgery, and while he too will be 31, the velocity (94.7mph in 2017) was actually above his pre-surgery years.

Should Minnesota end up landing on either Cobb or Lynn, they'll likely pay something north of an average annual value of $12 million to get them. Yes, it's fair to assume that Darvish is going to command double that, but it comes down to what kind of staff Derek Falvey and Thad Levine want to build. Adding Lynn or Cobb would give the Twins a three headed top half that resembles a good level of quality without a top end expectation of performance. Thrusting Darvish into the top of the group would allow the Twins an arm they could lean on winning games by its own merits every fifth day.

There's a lot to unpack, and deciding to drop that amount of cash into one player is undoubtedly a tough ask. For Minnesota though, this seems like the perfect storm to splurge a bit, and neither Lynn or Cobb fall within those parameters. The Twins are hardly the only team vying for his services, but it'll be a tough pill to swallow if Yu ends up elsewhere in 2018.

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  • tarheeltwinsfan and Tom Froemming like this



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tarheeltwinsfan
Dec 18 2017 02:30 PM

It will be worse that a tough pill to swallow if the Twins don't sign Darvish. Itwill be more like air gun shots in both arms at the induction center.

Well the Tribune is saying they (Twins) have yet to make an offer to Darvish but are becoming increasingly optimistic in getting Darvish even though it's unlikely he makes a decision for the next four weeks.Whatever all that means.

 

In addition Kintzler was open to returning to the Twins but they never made an offer to him and instead chose to sign Rodney.I don't get it.

 

http://m.startribune...terstitial=true

 

I still think they are blowing smoke and will come up empty handed but hope i'm wrong.

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Ted Schwerzler
Dec 18 2017 02:57 PM

 

Well the Tribune is saying they (Twins) have yet to make an offer to Darvish but are becoming increasingly optimistic in getting Darvish even though it's unlikely he makes a decision for the next four weeks.Whatever all that means.

 

In addition Kintzler was open to returning to the Twins but they never made an offer to him and instead chose to sign Rodney.I don't get it.

 

http://m.startribune...terstitial=true

 

I still think they are blowing smoke and will come up empty handed but hope i'm wrong.

I'd much prefer to have Rodney for one year than Kintzler for two. Fernando put the ball by big league hitters, while not needing to block potential young arms from emerging. A one year deal to a proven vet is the way they should have (and did) go about addressing the pen.

 

I'd like to see MN sign Darvish sooner rather than later, but really only for the sake of removing suspense. I think they are serious and feel there's a match. Let's just hope whenever the news breaks, it's positive.

    • Deduno Abides likes this

 

I'd much prefer to have Rodney for one year than Kintzler for two. Fernando put the ball by big league hitters, while not needing to block potential young arms from emerging. A one year deal to a proven vet is the way they should have (and did) go about addressing the pen.

 

I'd like to see MN sign Darvish sooner rather than later, but really only for the sake of removing suspense. I think they are serious and feel there's a match. Let's just hope whenever the news breaks, it's positive.

 

I disagree on Rodney.The guy is 41 years old.I want a younger pitcher hands down.

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Ted Schwerzler
Dec 18 2017 03:09 PM

 

I disagree on Rodney.The guy is 41 years old.I want a younger pitcher hands down.

 

You get that with Rodney...you don't on a two year deal with Kinztler. Younger guy now allowed to be Jay, Curtiss, Busenitz, or Reed.

 

Also, that 40 year old had a better K/9 than any Twins pitcher has in years. Yes, age is a detractor, but on a one year deal at $6m there's no downside.

    • DocBauer, Platoon, MN_ExPat and 1 other like this

But we signed Pineda for 2019... oops, does that mean 2018 is a forgotten year?

Financially, the Twins are in the midst of a perfect storm for Darvish. They can not only afford him, but money comes off the books each of the next two years, even if Santana was brought back for 2019, though that is by no means a given. And if Mauer and Dozier were each extended, say a 2 and 4 year deal, there would still be an overall savings there as well. The time is right for the Twins to make this bold move, without compromising the immediate future financially.

And I agree the Twins have real depth and potential at the 4 and 5 spots in the rotation.

My question is what to do if they don't get Darvish. No remaining target matches his stature as a #1. However, at the end of the day, isn't the goal to be the best and deepest team you can be? Isn't the goal to have a real chance to win daily? Even if the team has to "settle" for the likes of Lynn or Cobb, wouldn't they still be better and deeper in the rotation? And wouldn't that make them a better team, overall, with a better chance to win daily?

I'm hoping and rooting for Darvish. But if we swing and miss, here's hoping there is still a quality addition to be made.
    • Dantes929 likes this
Darvish is the option I’d prefer them to land but if that doesn’t happen I’d like to see them find an addition through the trade market. The loss of prospects it would take to bring in One if the top tier guys available will be uncomfortable but they have a solid core on the team now and need to have the pitching staff to take advantage of that.
    • Platoon likes this
The good thing about Darvish is that he is likely better than Lynn and Cobb. The bad thing is there is only one of him. A question I have is IF you could sign Lynn and Cobb for the same amount of money, would that added real depth in the rotation be equal to one Darvish. The current and future Darvish, not the past one? Darvish is likely no longer a true league wide ace. I am not even sure of an answer to the above, but the thought lingers. As for Kintlzer. IF using the term closer means "your best reliever", then the question I always ask is "can you be considered a great team with Kintzler as your closer"? I don't think so. One could also say that question could apply to the Darvish issue. Who would have thought baseball could be so complicated.

If they don't think they can sign Darvish, the Twins should move on quickly.

 

Move on to what? 

 

I'd expect to see a lot more chatter about trading for Gerrit Cole or Chris Archer. Frankly, I think either of those guys would be a better option than a 31-36 year old Darvish. They'd cost a lot more in prospects, but not nearly as much in cash.

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Ted Schwerzler
Dec 19 2017 09:45 AM

 

Darvish is the option I’d prefer them to land but if that doesn’t happen I’d like to see them find an addition through the trade market. The loss of prospects it would take to bring in One if the top tier guys available will be uncomfortable but they have a solid core on the team now and need to have the pitching staff to take advantage of that.

If not Darvish, I'd prefer going all in on prospects for Archer. I think of acquiring Cole as somewhere along the lines of Lynn and Cobb. You'll lose some, but is the gain all that significant?

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Ted Schwerzler
Dec 19 2017 09:46 AM

 

If they don't think they can sign Darvish, the Twins should move on quickly.

 

Move on to what? 

 

I'd expect to see a lot more chatter about trading for Gerrit Cole or Chris Archer. Frankly, I think either of those guys would be a better option than a 31-36 year old Darvish. They'd cost a lot more in prospects, but not nearly as much in cash.

I'd put Archer on the same level as Darvish, but would prefer to use money as opposed to prospects to acquire a pitcher. If you settle on Cole, I'm not sure Lynn or Cobb isn't more appealing.

 

The good thing about Darvish is that he is likely better than Lynn and Cobb. The bad thing is there is only one of him. A question I have is IF you could sign Lynn and Cobb for the same amount of money, would that added real depth in the rotation be equal to one Darvish. The current and future Darvish, not the past one? Darvish is likely no longer a true league wide ace. I am not even sure of an answer to the above, but the thought lingers. As for Kintlzer. IF using the term closer means "your best reliever", then the question I always ask is "can you be considered a great team with Kintzler as your closer"? I don't think so. One could also say that question could apply to the Darvish issue. Who would have thought baseball could be so complicated.

I'm not so convinced Darvish is a true ace either.I still don't get the love affair of strikeouts vs run prevention.Is Darvish better than Cobb and Santana because he strikes out more guys even though he allows more runs to score? Cobb and Santana both gave up fewer runs than Darvish in 2017 yet Darvish is considered significantly better. We are not even talking small sample size. Darvish over his career has allowed 1 earned run per 92 innings fewer than Cobb.I would rather have Darvish also but not by all that much and certainly not for double the cost.At the end of the day I would be thrilled to get Darvish, Cobb or Lynn because the true odds are that we get none of them. Any one of them makes us a better team and more likely to make the playoffs.I would be happy to take my chances on any of them along with Santana in a playoff game.The thing about #2's is that for any given game they are still pretty capable of pitching like aces. 

 

Same argument with Rodney and Kintzler.Kintzler has a lot fewer strikeouts per 9 than Rodney but his ERA the last two years is about half that of Rodney.Whenever Kintzler came in my level of nervousness wasn't much different than that of Nathan. Much of that had to do with Nathan's twitching vs Kintzler's grit but I still felt pretty good with Kintzler. On the other hand, whenever Rodney came in pitching against us I thought our odds of scoring on him were pretty good.

Well Darvish just met with the Astros after meeting with the Cubs.
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Ted Schwerzler
Dec 19 2017 06:12 PM

 

Well Darvish just met with the Astros after meeting with the Cubs.

 

As far as I'm aware, he met with the Twins at the Winter Meetings. Regardless, don't believe the meetings tell us anything other than to confirm Rhett Bollinger's report that he's not close to signing and it'll be a few weeks. He's seemingly gathering information on all suitors, which is smart.

 

Financially, the Twins are in the midst of a perfect storm for Darvish. They can not only afford him, but money comes off the books each of the next two years, even if Santana was brought back for 2019, though that is by no means a given. And if Mauer and Dozier were each extended, say a 2 and 4 year deal, there would still be an overall savings there as well. The time is right for the Twins to make this bold move, without compromising the immediate future financially.

And I agree the Twins have real depth and potential at the 4 and 5 spots in the rotation.

My question is what to do if they don't get Darvish. No remaining target matches his stature as a #1. However, at the end of the day, isn't the goal to be the best and deepest team you can be? Isn't the goal to have a real chance to win daily? Even if the team has to "settle" for the likes of Lynn or Cobb, wouldn't they still be better and deeper in the rotation? And wouldn't that make them a better team, overall, with a better chance to win daily?

I'm hoping and rooting for Darvish. But if we swing and miss, here's hoping there is still a quality addition to be made.

how much do you expect to save if you resign Dozier and Mauer? Mauer's contract would go down, but Dozier's would go up.

 

As far as I'm aware, he met with the Twins at the Winter Meetings. 

 

Is there a source or is this intuition?Not criticizing, but was hoping to read if anything was said about this meeting.  

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Ted Schwerzler
Dec 20 2017 10:04 AM

 

Is there a source or is this intuition?Not criticizing, but was hoping to read if anything was said about this meeting.  

 

I may be wrong and they may have just talked with his reps? I guess what I'm getting at is that I don't believe a meeting signifies anything about when he's signing or where he's leaning.

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Deduno Abides
Dec 20 2017 10:19 PM
Which teams are left that want starters, have spending capacity and are competitive? Cubs and Astros are top two, then Rangers and maybe Mariners, then Phillies. Anyone else? Yankees, Diamondbacks, Giants and Brewers really don’t have spending capacity, Dodgers, Cards, Nationals, Red Sox and Cleveland aren’t really looking. Rockies may be OK with their rotation and it’s rarely a top choice for pitchers to go. Orioles, Blue Jays and Mets probably have a couple of limitations.

There are several OK pitchers on the market, but the number of landing places may be decreasing. Twins may be a preferable landing place and this may play out slowly.
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MaxOelerking
Dec 21 2017 12:01 AM

Darvish is my easy favorite for the Twins to go after, but Lynn wouldn't be a bad 2nd option IMO. He would be a solid piece in the rotation good for 200 IP if needed. His fastball velocity isn't overpowering but he's shown no sign of slowing down yet. What intrigues me the most is his repertoire of four-seam, two-seam, and cutter. Three pitches that move in three different directions. He also mixes in a change-up and breaking ball. Having another reliable veteran arm in our rotation would make for a fun 2018.