It is no secret that this offseason has been particularly slow. Judd Zulgad and Phil Mackey had a conversation about it this week on their radio show because the lack of news was taking the excitement out of the offseason. ESPN has set up a free agency tracker and only 2 of the top 10 free agents have signed and only 7 of the top 20 overall. The 4 top pitchers in this market are unsigned as well (Darvish, Arrieta, Cobb, Lynn). This glut of unsigned talent this late in the offseason leaves teams with unique opportunities.
I think the Twins can take advantage of how the market has played out to do something innovative with Yu Darvish. Here are some baseline items I believe are contributing to his unsigned status:
- The Yankees and the Dodgers are staying out of the market due to a desire to reset the luxury tax threshold and by doing so they are creating a void that has yet to be filled.
- Darvish has likely not received any 5 or 6 year offers at this point or I think he would have signed.
- The world series performance by Darvish may be leaving a bad taste in the mouths of many clubs.
Here are some baseline items in regards to the Twins:
- The Twins have a large bubble payment of $50-68 million coming in Q1 2018 from the MLB sale of BAMTech (Correct Source)
- The Twins need pitching help in the starting rotation, preferably someone with top of the rotation potential.
- The Twins are adverse to long-term free agent contracts which I am putting at anything over 4 years.
My idea is for the Twins to offer Darvish a massively over market contract for 1 year. Here are the details:
- 1 year/$40 million
- Vesting team option for a second year at $15 million if Darvish does not pitch at least 100 innings.
- Majority of the $40 million is in the form of a signing bonus so as to allow a tax favorable payment to Darvish with his current residency being in Texas, a state with no income tax.
This deal is advantageous to both parties given the current climate. Darvish gets a number of positive outcomes:
- Extremely high salary for 1 year.
- Significant tax savings.
- The ability to re-enter the market in 2019 when the Dodgers and Yankees will theoretically be back in the mix.
- The chance to put the bad World Series performance out of teams minds.
- Ability to play with a team with good outfield defense and that is on the rise.
The Twins get a number of things in return as well:
- They get the services of a potential ace pitcher, similar to what they did in 1991 with Jack Morris.
- The Twins are not on the hook for a massive 5+ year contract.
- The Twins have a dedicated funding source (BAMTech money) to fund this initiative. If they don’t spend it in this fashion it is likely just going to go to the Pohlad family and won’t improve the team.
- The Twins are protected in case of injury due to the team option provision.
Will the Twins try to innovate in this fashion? I am not certain. This would be the highest per year contract ever given out in MLB history. The current leader is Greinke with a per year average of $34.5 million. The Pohlad’s have not shown a willingness to be big spenders on the open market and Falvine have yet to show it as well. Darvish may also have some apprehension. He may decide that a 4 year/$100 million offer provides more security. He may blow out his arm at any point in 2018 and want the security of the long term contract, even if it is not as long term and as valuable as he might have hoped.
What are your thoughts? Do you like this 1 year approach? Who do you think says no? Please leave comments, thanks!