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New Approach on Signing Yu Darvish




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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!



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Not a fan of a one year deal. They aren't one player away. They needed pitching for the next several years. I do think you have the start of a good idea, though, that could be used for a four year deal.

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Not a fan of a one year deal. They aren't one player away. They needed pitching for the next several years. I do think you have the start of a good idea, though, that could be used for a four year deal.


I agree the idea could be repurposed.  A 4 year/$140 million contract with $60 million being a signing bonus using the BAMTech money might get him to agree to a reduced term from the 5-7 years he is likely looking for.  I wouldn't be opposed to Falvine putting both options on the table.

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If the Twins offer Darvish one year for $40 million, Darvish might counter with 2 years for $80 million, or 3/120. :)


Then you say no and let Darvish figure out if he wants to accept that 3 or 4 year deal he can get right now from this depressed market.  Does he want to earn more money in 1 year than any MLB player has ever done and go to free agency in 2019 when the Yankees and Dodgers would be in the mix?  Or does he want to accept half that annual contract value and not get the 5-6 year term he wants?  

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Heres a thought. Offer Darvish a 5 or 6 year contact. 25 million per year first 4 years and 10 million in year 5 with 20-30 million signing bonus depending on 5 or 6 year.

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The Twins committed 174 million to Nolasco, Santana and Hughes over 14 years. The return thus far has been 3 of 11 season of league average or better starting pitching for the 134 million they have spent thus far.


A good season for a starting pitcher has cost them almost 45 million a season. The 40 million looks like a bargain.

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I think there are reasons you never see deals like this.


There is no relative tax savings for Darvish over a larger contract, especially not with, say, Texas or Houston. Even though the Yankees and Dodgers may be more aggressive next winter, that will likely be offset by the presence of better FAs like Harper, Machado, Donaldson, Keuchel, etc. And no decision-makers are seriously putting much weight on his 2 most recent starts.


I think Darvish's slow market is being driven by the Boras clients at the top of the market this year, primarily Arrieta and JD Martinez. They are holding up the whole market except relievers. Once that clears, I think Darvish will eventually find an acceptable long term deal at a preferred destination, no reason he will have resort to something drastic like this.

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