Blue Jays spring training

A look at the Toronto Blue Jays as they prepare for the 2013 baseball season.

FILE - In this June 2, 2015, file photo, Washington Nationals relief pitcher Felipe Rivero (73) throws during the second baseball game of a doubleheader against the Toronto Blue Jays at Nationals Park, in Washington.The hard-throwing left-handed reliever finalized a $22 million, four-year contract with the pPittsburgh Pirates on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018, a deal that includes two club options and could be worth $41 million over six seasons. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
Felipe Rivero finalizes $22M, 4-year deal with Pirates
FILE - In this June 2, 2015, file photo, Washington Nationals relief pitcher Felipe Rivero (73) throws during the second baseball game of a doubleheader against the Toronto Blue Jays at Nationals Park, in Washington.The hard-throwing left-handed reliever finalized a $22 million, four-year contract with the pPittsburgh Pirates on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018, a deal that includes two club options and could be worth $41 million over six seasons. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
FILE - In this June 2, 2015, file photo, Washington Nationals relief pitcher Felipe Rivero (73) throws during the second baseball game of a doubleheader against the Toronto Blue Jays at Nationals Park, in Washington.The hard-throwing left-handed reliever finalized a $22 million, four-year contract with the pPittsburgh Pirates on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018, a deal that includes two club options and could be worth $41 million over six seasons. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
FILE - In this June 2, 2015, file photo, Washington Nationals relief pitcher Felipe Rivero (73) throws during the second baseball game of a doubleheader against the Toronto Blue Jays at Nationals Park, in Washington.The hard-throwing left-handed reliever finalized a $22 million, four-year contract with the pPittsburgh Pirates on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018, a deal that includes two club options and could be worth $41 million over six seasons. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
FILE - In this June 2, 2015, file photo, Washington Nationals relief pitcher Felipe Rivero (73) throws during the second baseball game of a doubleheader against the Toronto Blue Jays at Nationals Park, in Washington.The hard-throwing left-handed reliever finalized a $22 million, four-year contract with the pPittsburgh Pirates on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018, a deal that includes two club options and could be worth $41 million over six seasons. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
FILE - In this June 23, 2017, file photo, actor Paul Rudd walks off the field after standing for the national anthem with members of the Kansas City Royals before the team's baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays in Kansas City, Mo. Rudd has been named 2018 Man of the Year by Harvard University's Hasty Pudding Theatricals. The oldest collegiate theatrical organization in the country said Thursday it is honoring Rudd because his career has spanned many genres, from indies to mainstream films, from heartfelt comedies to superheroes. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
FILE - In this June 23, 2017, file photo, actor Paul Rudd walks off the field after standing for the national anthem with members of the Kansas City Royals before the team's baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays in Kansas City, Mo. Rudd has been named 2018 Man of the Year by Harvard University's Hasty Pudding Theatricals. The oldest collegiate theatrical organization in the country said Thursday it is honoring Rudd because his career has spanned many genres, from indies to mainstream films, from heartfelt comedies to superheroes. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
FILE - In this June 23, 2017, file photo, actor Paul Rudd walks off the field after standing for the national anthem with members of the Kansas City Royals before the team's baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays in Kansas City, Mo. Rudd has been named 2018 Man of the Year by Harvard University's Hasty Pudding Theatricals. The oldest collegiate theatrical organization in the country said Thursday it is honoring Rudd because his career has spanned many genres, from indies to mainstream films, from heartfelt comedies to superheroes. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
Blue Jays pick up Curtis Granderson on one-year deal to shore up outfield
Blue Jays pick up Curtis Granderson on one-year deal to shore up outfield
Blue Jays pick up Curtis Granderson on one-year deal to shore up outfield
Blue Jays pick up Curtis Granderson on one-year deal to shore up outfield
Blue Jays pick up Curtis Granderson on one-year deal to shore up outfield
Blue Jays pick up Curtis Granderson on one-year deal to shore up outfield
<p>MLB free agents: Blue Jays, OF Curtis Granderson agree to 1-year, $5M deal, report says</p>
MLB free agents: Blue Jays, OF Curtis Granderson agree to 1-year, $5M deal, report says

MLB free agents: Blue Jays, OF Curtis Granderson agree to 1-year, $5M deal, report says

<p>MLB free agents: Blue Jays, OF Curtis Granderson agree to 1-year, $5M deal, report says</p>
MLB free agents: Blue Jays, OF Curtis Granderson agree to 1-year, $5M deal, report says

MLB free agents: Blue Jays, OF Curtis Granderson agree to 1-year, $5M deal, report says

Granderson, 36, had publicly weighed retirement last seaon, his 14th in the majors.
MLB free agents: Blue Jays, OF Curtis Granderson agree to 1-year, $5M deal, report says
Granderson, 36, had publicly weighed retirement last seaon, his 14th in the majors.
The Blue Jays reportedly signed outfielder Curtis Granderson to a one-year, $5 million deal on Monday night.
Report: Blue Jays sign Curtis Granderson to one-year, $5 million deal
The Blue Jays reportedly signed outfielder Curtis Granderson to a one-year, $5 million deal on Monday night.
The Blue Jays reportedly signed outfielder Curtis Granderson to a one-year, $5 million deal on Monday night.
Report: Blue Jays sign Curtis Granderson to one-year, $5 million deal
The Blue Jays reportedly signed outfielder Curtis Granderson to a one-year, $5 million deal on Monday night.
Reports: veteran outfielder Curtis Granderson signs with Toronto Blue Jays
Reports: veteran outfielder Curtis Granderson signs with Toronto Blue Jays
Reports: veteran outfielder Curtis Granderson signs with Toronto Blue Jays
Blue Jays pick up Curtis Granderson on one-year deal to shore up outfield
Blue Jays pick up Curtis Granderson on one-year deal to shore up outfield
Blue Jays pick up Curtis Granderson on one-year deal to shore up outfield
<p>Curtis Granderson signing one-year deal with Blue Jays</p>
Curtis Granderson signing one-year deal with Blue Jays

Curtis Granderson signing one-year deal with Blue Jays

<p>Curtis Granderson signing one-year deal with Blue Jays</p>
Curtis Granderson signing one-year deal with Blue Jays

Curtis Granderson signing one-year deal with Blue Jays

Blue Jays pick up Curtis Granderson on one-year deal to shore up outfield
Blue Jays pick up Curtis Granderson on one-year deal to shore up outfield
Blue Jays pick up Curtis Granderson on one-year deal to shore up outfield
Curtis Granderson will join the Toronto Blue Jays in 2018. (AP Photo)
Granderson
Curtis Granderson will join the Toronto Blue Jays in 2018. (AP Photo)
Blue Jays extending protective netting
Blue Jays extending protective netting
Blue Jays extending protective netting
Blue Jays to replace and extend protective netting at Rogers Centre
Blue Jays to replace and extend protective netting at Rogers Centre
Blue Jays to replace and extend protective netting at Rogers Centre
FILE - In this May 14, 2017, file photo, a police officer tries to catch a foul ball during seventh inning of a baseball game between the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners in Toronto. The Blue Jays announced Monday, Jan. 15, 2017, they will extend the protective netting at Rogers Centre to the outfield end of each dugout this season and increase the height of netting behind home plate by approximately 10 feet to 28 feet. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
Blue Jays announce plans for extended protective netting
FILE - In this May 14, 2017, file photo, a police officer tries to catch a foul ball during seventh inning of a baseball game between the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners in Toronto. The Blue Jays announced Monday, Jan. 15, 2017, they will extend the protective netting at Rogers Centre to the outfield end of each dugout this season and increase the height of netting behind home plate by approximately 10 feet to 28 feet. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
FILE - In this May 14, 2017, file photo, a police officer tries to catch a foul ball during seventh inning of a baseball game between the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners in Toronto. The Blue Jays announced Monday, Jan. 15, 2017, they will extend the protective netting at Rogers Centre to the outfield end of each dugout this season and increase the height of netting behind home plate by approximately 10 feet to 28 feet. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
FILE - In this May 14, 2017, file photo, a police officer tries to catch a foul ball during seventh inning of a baseball game between the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners in Toronto. The Blue Jays announced Monday, Jan. 15, 2017, they will extend the protective netting at Rogers Centre to the outfield end of each dugout this season and increase the height of netting behind home plate by approximately 10 feet to 28 feet. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
FILE - In this May 14, 2017, file photo, a police officer tries to catch a foul ball during seventh inning of a baseball game between the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners in Toronto. The Blue Jays announced Monday, Jan. 15, 2017, they will extend the protective netting at Rogers Centre to the outfield end of each dugout this season and increase the height of netting behind home plate by approximately 10 feet to 28 feet. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 15, 2017, file photo, Toronto Blue Jays&#39; Josh Donaldson hits a three-run home run against the Tampa Bay Rays during the fifth inning of a baseball game in Toronto. The hot corner figures to be smoking Friday, Jan. 12, 2018, when players and team swap proposed salaries in arbitration. Donaldson, Baltimore&#39;s Manny Machado, Washington&#39;s Anthony Rendon and the Chicago Cubs&#39; Kris Bryant were among the more than 170 players headed to the exchange. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
Josh Donaldson agrees to $23M, 1-year deal with Blue Jays
FILE - In this Aug. 15, 2017, file photo, Toronto Blue Jays' Josh Donaldson hits a three-run home run against the Tampa Bay Rays during the fifth inning of a baseball game in Toronto. The hot corner figures to be smoking Friday, Jan. 12, 2018, when players and team swap proposed salaries in arbitration. Donaldson, Baltimore's Manny Machado, Washington's Anthony Rendon and the Chicago Cubs' Kris Bryant were among the more than 170 players headed to the exchange. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 15, 2017, file photo, Toronto Blue Jays&#39; Josh Donaldson hits a three-run home run against the Tampa Bay Rays during the fifth inning of a baseball game in Toronto. The hot corner figures to be smoking Friday, Jan. 12, 2018, when players and team swap proposed salaries in arbitration. Donaldson, Baltimore&#39;s Manny Machado, Washington&#39;s Anthony Rendon and the Chicago Cubs&#39; Kris Bryant were among the more than 170 players headed to the exchange. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 15, 2017, file photo, Toronto Blue Jays' Josh Donaldson hits a three-run home run against the Tampa Bay Rays during the fifth inning of a baseball game in Toronto. The hot corner figures to be smoking Friday, Jan. 12, 2018, when players and team swap proposed salaries in arbitration. Donaldson, Baltimore's Manny Machado, Washington's Anthony Rendon and the Chicago Cubs' Kris Bryant were among the more than 170 players headed to the exchange. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 15, 2017, file photo, Toronto Blue Jays' Josh Donaldson hits a three-run home run against the Tampa Bay Rays during the fifth inning of a baseball game in Toronto. The hot corner figures to be smoking Friday, Jan. 12, 2018, when players and team swap proposed salaries in arbitration. Donaldson, Baltimore's Manny Machado, Washington's Anthony Rendon and the Chicago Cubs' Kris Bryant were among the more than 170 players headed to the exchange. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
<p>Blue Jays, Donaldson avoid arbitration</p>
Blue Jays, Donaldson avoid arbitration

Blue Jays, Donaldson avoid arbitration

<p>Blue Jays, Donaldson avoid arbitration</p>
Blue Jays, Donaldson avoid arbitration

Blue Jays, Donaldson avoid arbitration

Josh Donaldson is staying with the Toronto Blue Jays after agreeing to a new deal.
Blue Jays, Donaldson avoid arbitration
Josh Donaldson is staying with the Toronto Blue Jays after agreeing to a new deal.
<p> FILE - In this Aug. 15, 2017, file photo, Toronto Blue Jays' Josh Donaldson hits a three-run home run against the Tampa Bay Rays during the fifth inning of a baseball game in Toronto. The hot corner figures to be smoking Friday, Jan. 12, 2018, when players and team swap proposed salaries in arbitration. Donaldson, Baltimore's Manny Machado, Washington's Anthony Rendon and the Chicago Cubs' Kris Bryant were among the more than 170 players headed to the exchange. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP, File) </p>
Josh Donaldson agrees to $23M, 1-year deal with Blue Jays

FILE - In this Aug. 15, 2017, file photo, Toronto Blue Jays' Josh Donaldson hits a three-run home run against the Tampa Bay Rays during the fifth inning of a baseball game in Toronto. The hot corner figures to be smoking Friday, Jan. 12, 2018, when players and team swap proposed salaries in arbitration. Donaldson, Baltimore's Manny Machado, Washington's Anthony Rendon and the Chicago Cubs' Kris Bryant were among the more than 170 players headed to the exchange. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

<p>The Cubs and third baseman Kris Bryant reportedly reached a deal to give Bryant a record $10.85 million as a first-year arbitration-eligible player and avoid an arbitration hearing, reports the <em>Chicago Sun-Times</em>.</p><p>Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard set the old record of $10 million in 2008. Howard and Bryant both National League Rookie of the Year and MVP awards in their first two seasons in the majors. </p><p>Bryant hit .295 with 29 homers last season for Chicago. The 26-year-old made $1.05 million last year.</p><p>He is among five arbitration-eligible players, including Addison Russell, who reportedly reached agreements with the Cubs by Friday, according to the Sun-Times. Right-hander Justin Grimm is the only arbitration-eligible player left who has not signed a deal.</p><p>Earlier Friday, the <a href="https://www.si.com/mlb/2018/01/12/josh-donaldson-salary-arbitration-record-blue-jays" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson reportedly agreed" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson reportedly agreed</a> to a $23 million contract for next season to avoid arbitration. The salary is a record for an arbitration-eligible player, surpassing Bryce Harper’s $21.625 million deal for this season. </p>
Report: Cubs, Kris Bryant Agree to Record $10.85 Million Deal for First-Year Arbitration Player

The Cubs and third baseman Kris Bryant reportedly reached a deal to give Bryant a record $10.85 million as a first-year arbitration-eligible player and avoid an arbitration hearing, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard set the old record of $10 million in 2008. Howard and Bryant both National League Rookie of the Year and MVP awards in their first two seasons in the majors.

Bryant hit .295 with 29 homers last season for Chicago. The 26-year-old made $1.05 million last year.

He is among five arbitration-eligible players, including Addison Russell, who reportedly reached agreements with the Cubs by Friday, according to the Sun-Times. Right-hander Justin Grimm is the only arbitration-eligible player left who has not signed a deal.

Earlier Friday, the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson reportedly agreed to a $23 million contract for next season to avoid arbitration. The salary is a record for an arbitration-eligible player, surpassing Bryce Harper’s $21.625 million deal for this season.

The Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson have agreed to a $23 million contract for next season to avoid arbitration, according to multiple reports. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi was first to report the news.
Reports: Josh Donaldson Sets MLB Salary Arbitration Record at $23 Million
The Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson have agreed to a $23 million contract for next season to avoid arbitration, according to multiple reports. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi was first to report the news.
The Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson have agreed to a $23 million contract for next season to avoid arbitration, according to multiple reports. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi was first to report the news.
Reports: Josh Donaldson Sets MLB Salary Arbitration Record at $23 Million
The Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson have agreed to a $23 million contract for next season to avoid arbitration, according to multiple reports. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi was first to report the news.
Blue Jays sign star Josh Donaldson to one-year, $23-million deal
Blue Jays sign star Josh Donaldson to one-year, $23-million deal
Blue Jays sign star Josh Donaldson to one-year, $23-million deal
Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson avoid arbitration with record deal
Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson avoid arbitration with record deal
Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson avoid arbitration with record deal
Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson avoid arbitration with record deal
Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson avoid arbitration with record deal
Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson avoid arbitration with record deal
Blue Jays avoid arbitration with OF Carrera and LHP Loup
Blue Jays avoid arbitration with OF Carrera and LHP Loup
Blue Jays avoid arbitration with OF Carrera and LHP Loup
Blue Jays avoid arbitration with OF Carrera and LHP Loup
Blue Jays avoid arbitration with OF Carrera and LHP Loup
Blue Jays avoid arbitration with OF Carrera and LHP Loup
<p>The Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson have agreed to a $23 million contract for next season to avoid arbitration, according to multiple reports. <a href="https://twitter.com/ShiDavidi/status/951850631093919745" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi was first to report the news" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi was first to report the news</a>. </p><p>The salary is a record for an arbitration-eligible player, surpassing Bryce Harper’s figure for this season. Harper, like Donaldson, will be a free agent after this season and agreed in May to a 2018 salary of $21.625 million. </p><p>After three straight years as an All-Star and two with top-five finishes in All-Star voting Donaldson’s production was slightly down in 2017, partially due to an early-season calf injury that kept him out for six weeks. He hit .270 with a .385 on-base percentage and 33 homers. </p><p>The Blue Jays spent a good portion of the winter listening to trade offers for Donaldson as they face the decision of whether to send him away while getting value in return or possibly losing him with no compensation as a free agent. The 2015 AL MVP will be 33 when he hits the market next winter. </p>
Reports: Josh Donaldson Sets MLB Salary Arbitration Record at $23 Million

The Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson have agreed to a $23 million contract for next season to avoid arbitration, according to multiple reports. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi was first to report the news.

The salary is a record for an arbitration-eligible player, surpassing Bryce Harper’s figure for this season. Harper, like Donaldson, will be a free agent after this season and agreed in May to a 2018 salary of $21.625 million.

After three straight years as an All-Star and two with top-five finishes in All-Star voting Donaldson’s production was slightly down in 2017, partially due to an early-season calf injury that kept him out for six weeks. He hit .270 with a .385 on-base percentage and 33 homers.

The Blue Jays spent a good portion of the winter listening to trade offers for Donaldson as they face the decision of whether to send him away while getting value in return or possibly losing him with no compensation as a free agent. The 2015 AL MVP will be 33 when he hits the market next winter.

<p>Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson avoid arbitration with record deal</p>
Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson avoid arbitration with record deal

Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson avoid arbitration with record deal

Donaldson has been the subject of trade talk this offseason.
Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson avoid arbitration with record deal
Donaldson has been the subject of trade talk this offseason.
<p>Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson avoid arbitration with record deal</p>
Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson avoid arbitration with record deal

Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson avoid arbitration with record deal

<p>Yu Darvish&#39;s 2017 season ended in gruesome fashion. After two strong playoff starts for the Dodgers, the Astros battered him in Games 3 and 7 of the World Series, apparently because he was <a href="https://streamable.com/6elnl" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:tipping" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">tipping</a> <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/yu-darvish-tipping-pitches-world-series-loss-2017-11" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:his" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">his</a> <a href="https://www.si.com/mlb/2017/12/11/winter-meetings-stanton-darvish-shohei-ohtani" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:pitches" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">pitches</a>. Nonetheless, the 31-year-old righty is arguably the top starting pitcher on the free agent market given <a href="https://www.si.com/mlb/2018/01/10/jake-arrieta-free-agency-value" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Jake Arrieta&#39;s regression" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Jake Arrieta&#39;s regression</a> from his Cy Young form and the questions over how the since-signed Shohei Otani&#39;s stateside career will unfold. <a href="https://sports.yahoo.com/yu-darvish-continues-reporting-free-agency-hints-mystery-team-045312047.html" data-ylk="slk:Reportedly" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Reportedly</a>, Darvish has narrowed his list of potential destinations down to six teams. While nobody has reported any dollar figures or hard offers, his status makes him an obvious candidate for my What&#39;s He Really Worth series.</p><p>Before coming stateside, Darvish spent seven seasons pitching for the Nippon Ham Fighters of the Japanese Pacific League, debuting when he was just 18 years old, throwing his first 200-inning season at age 20, twice winning ERA titles and MVP awards and adding an <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eiji_Sawamura_Award" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Eiji Sawamura Award" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Eiji Sawamura Award</a> for the NPB&#39;s top pitcher in either league. The Fighters agreed <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/14/sports/baseball/darvish-is-up-for-bidding-and-system-in-japan-draws-criticism.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:to post him to MLB" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">to post him to MLB</a> after the 2011 season, and after winning his rights for a record $51.7 million, the Rangers signed the 25-year-old Darvish to a six-year, $60 million deal.</p><p>Thanks to his elite fastball velocity and a deep arsenal of eight distinct pitches, Darvish quickly found success, turning in <a href="https://www.si.com/mlb/2017/12/09/ranking-rookie-seasons-japanese-players-shohei-ohtani" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the best rookie season by a Japanese pitcher since Hideo Nomo" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the best rookie season by a Japanese pitcher since Hideo Nomo</a> in 1995. He went 16–9 with a 3.90 ERA (112 ERA+) and 221 strikeouts (fifth in the league) in 191 1/3 innings, good for 3.9 WAR, and finished third in the AL Rookie of the Year voting; some kid named Mike Trout won unanimously.</p><p>Darvish followed that up with his best season to date in terms of ERA (2.83, fourth in the AL), innings (209 2/3), strikeouts (a league-high 277) and WAR (5.8, fifth in the league). While 2014 featured his third-straight All-Star selection and strong rate stats, (3.06 ERA, 2.84 FIP, 11.3 K/9), that season ended in early August due to elbow inflammation. After lasting just one inning in his lone Cactus League start the following spring, it was discovered that he tore his UCL and needed Tommy John surgery.</p><p>By the time Darvish returned, on May 28, 2016, he had been absent from a major league mound for nearly 22 months. He made just three starts before going back to the disabled list for neck and shoulder discomfort, a stay that lasted five weeks. His numbers in 17 starts (3.41 ERA, 3.09 FIP, 11.8 K/9) were very much on par with his pre-surgery body of work, and he helped the Rangers return to the postseason for the first time since 2012, though his lone start against the Blue Jays in the Division Series was a dud. </p><p>Last year, the final one of his six-year deal, Darvish turned in his most complete season since 2013, throwing 186 2/3 innings, striking out 209 and finishing with a 3.86 ERA, 3.83 FIP and 3.9 WAR. While he didn&#39;t avoid the disabled list completely, the new 10-day minimum allowed him to miss one turn with what was termed lower back tightness but what was really a strategic break. By that point, Darvish had been traded to the Dodgers in a last-minute trade deadline deal on July 31. Prior to being dealt, Darivsh had generally pitched very well; the 10 runs he was lit up for in his 3 2/3-inning July 26 outing—his last as a Ranger, as it turned out — raised his ERA from 3.44 to 4.01, but the subsequent discovery that he had been <a href="https://www.mlb.com/rangers/news/yu-darvish-finds-pitch-tipping-flaw-on-video/c-245190368" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:tipping his pitches" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">tipping his pitches</a> quelled concerns about his health. Having been placated by this explanation while doing their due diligence, the Dodgers should have been particularly attuned to the possibility of further tipping after his first World Series disaster; their failure to identify it may well have cost them a championship.</p><p>The Dodgers did help Darvish in other ways, however, using that late August DL stint to limit his workload, tweak his mechanics, <a href="http://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/21177665/how-dodgers-turned-yu-darvish-better-version-himself" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:simplify his repertoire" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">simplify his repertoire</a> and improve his sequencing. Though he was cuffed in his first two turns upon returning, he finished the regular season on a roll that carried through the NLCS. With greater reliance upon his cutter and slider at the expense of his four-seam fastball, he posted an 0.87 ERA with a 35/2 K/BB ratio in 31 innings over five starts. When the Astros spotted him changing his grip as he brought the ball into his glove, they could tell whether or not he was throwing a fastball.</p><p>The pitch-tipping mystery may be solved, but Darvish’s track record for health, with a Tommy John surgery and further shoulder problems, and overall mileage are worth noting for any suitor. Between NPB and MLB, he&#39;s thrown 2,000 2/3 regular season innings; among pitchers who have debuted since the 1994–95 strike, only Felix Hernandez (2,415 2/3), CC Sabathia (2,364 1/3), Javier Vazquez (2,062 1/3), Mark Buehrle (2061) and Jon Garland (2,029 1/3) threw more through their age-30 seasons. Sabathia&#39;s still going, having bookended two good seasons (2012 and &#39;17) around four spotty, injury-riddled ones; he&#39;s averaged 1.7 WAR with a 104 ERA+ in his six seasons following that workload. Buehrle lasted six more seasons, averaging 3.0 WAR and 108 ERA+, albeit as a soft-tossing, contact-oriented lefty, a very different style of pitching than that of Darvish. Vazquez had one excellent season, two good ones and one bad one before disappearing from the majors after age 34, while Garland made just 21 more starts in his career. Hernandez managed just 86 2/3 innings in 2017, his first year since that cutoff, due to shoulder bursitis.</p><p>That&#39;s not an especially encouraging group to compare Darvish to, nor is it a great fit for him, stylistically. A more relevant analogue may be Justin Verlander, a power pitcher who had 1,772 innings under his belt through 2013, his age-30 season. He&#39;s had ups and downs since, but has averaged 193 innings, a 116 ERA+ and 4.0 WAR in the four seasons since. Then again, he never underwent Tommy John surgery. All of which is to say that Darvish is in a rather unique spot.</p><p>As with Arrieta, Darvish&#39;s uneven track record makes for a fairly uninspiring first run through my WHRW model, which uses Tom Tango’s <a href="http://tangotiger.com/index.php/site/comments/war-marcels-warcels" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:WARcel" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">WARcel</a> forecasting system, a WAR-based version of his Marcel the Monkey forecaster system (&quot;the most basic forecasting system you can have, that uses as little intelligence as possible&quot;) that builds in regression and an aging curve as well. My WHRW model also uses research-based estimates of the cost of a win via free agency and the rate of salary inflation. The WARcel starts with a baseline forecast for the upcoming season using a 6/3/1 WAR weighting (six times the player&#39;s 2017 WAR plus three times his 2016 WAR plus his 2015 WAR, divided by 10) of the player&#39;s past three seasons and throws in a significant hit of regression (20% in the first year, or 0.8 times that weighted WAR). For pitchers older than 26, the aging curve is simply a baseline loss of 0.4 WAR per year, with no age-based acceleration as there is in the case of position players.</p><p>Using Darvish&#39;s rather modest Baseball-Reference WARs of zero (2015, his TJ season), 2.5 (&#39;16) and 3.9 (&#39;17), his 2018 baseline WAR of 3.1 gets cut down to 2.5 by the built-in regression, with subsequent seasons of 2.1, 1.7 and 1.3 for a net of just 7.5 WAR. Using the low-end estimate of $9 million per 2017 win and a 5.9% rate of inflation, that comes out to a valuation of $76.7 million over four years, the kind of contract that a healthy Darvish almost certainly wouldn’t sign. Casting that simplistic-but-useful mode of projection aside and going with a more advanced system, the well-regarded <a href="https://www.fangraphs.com/projections.aspx?pos=all&#38;stats=pit&#38;type=steamer&#38;team=0&#x002276;=all&#38;players=0&#38;sort=20,d" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Steamer" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Steamer</a> forecasts Darvish for 3.4 WAR via its RA9 flavor—that is, based on actual runs allowed (along the lines of Baseball-Reference’s version of pitching WAR) rather than based upon peripheral statistics (along the lines of FanGraphs’ version): </p><p>Individual pitcher performances don&#39;t tend to follow such linear patterns, of course, but for modeling purposes, it’s easier to think about in these terms rather than the reality of year-to-year fluctuation. Darvish’s performance doesn’t appear to be unattainable, particularly given his flashes of brilliance last year, which also included a 13-start run with a 2.83 ERA from early April to mid-June. I’ve gone to six years with run based on the industry expectations that Dodgers Digest&#39;s <a href="http://dodgersdigest.com/2018/01/11/a-yu-darvish-dodgers-reunion-would-take-a-lot-but-it-might-be-worth-it/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Dustin Nosler" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Dustin Nosler</a> recently highlighted: those of FanGraphs&#39; <a href="https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/2018-top-50-free-agents/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Dave Cameron" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Dave Cameron</a> (six years, $168 million), FanRag Sports&#39; <a href="https://www.fanragsports.com/inside-baseball-how-much-will-the-top-80-free-agents-get/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Jon Heyman" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Jon Heyman</a> (six years, $144 million), an unnamed—and allegedly more accurate—expert cited by Heyman (six years, $155 million) and <a href="https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/free-agent-profile-yu-darvish.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:MLB Trade Rumors" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">MLB Trade Rumors</a> (six years, $160 million).</p><p>Using the high-end estimate of $10.5 million per 2017 win puts Darvish’s valuation at $180.5 million over the six years; the $30.08 million average annual value would rank fourth among pitchers after the pacts of Zack Greinke ($34.417 million), David Price ($31 million) and Clayton Kershaw ($31.71 million), edging Max Scherzer ($30 million). I don’t think Darvish will get a deal quite that lucrative, but even the more conservative valuation above yields a $25.78 AAV, with only Scherzer and Jon Lester ($25.83 million) ahead of him and Justin Verlander ($25.71 million) right behind. It’s worth remembering that those contracts are all at least two years old, and timing is everything in that area. While the market is currently in stasis, its lack of depth in an industry that’s awash in cash—thanks to revenue having grown faster than salaries over the past decade (67% for the former, 52% for the latter according to <a href="https://www.si.com/mlb/2018/01/11/free-agency-hot-stove-slow-pace" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Tom Verducci" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Tom Verducci</a>) and the sale of MLB Advanced Media to Disney (yielding a payout of roughly $50 million per team)—will likely produce eye-opening figures at the upper end.</p><p>Darvish is reportedly still considering six teams, namely the Astros, Cubs, Rangers, Twins, Yankees and, <a href="https://twitter.com/faridyu/status/951275600290992128" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:by his own account" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">by his own account</a>, a mystery team (<a href="https://twitter.com/McCulloughTimes/status/951287247562616832" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:believed" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">believed</a> to be the Dodgers). Neither the Yankees nor the Dodgers seem likely to go that high given their attempts to get under the $197 million Competitive Balance Tax threshold this winter, but that’s still plenty of competition to yield a contract in the ballpark of those two estimates.</p><p>Darvish’s history in MLB shows that a few glitches aside, when he’s has been available, he&#39;s been very good, producing 4.2 WAR per 180 innings. But as his own track record—and that of similarly hard-worked pitchers—illustrates, the odds of him staying on the field that long aren&#39;t high, and the mileage that his right arm has accumulated won&#39;t make doing so any easier. Like any pitcher he’s a risk and a costly one, but some team is certain to bite the bullet and go big. </p>
What Is Yu Darvish Really Worth?

Yu Darvish's 2017 season ended in gruesome fashion. After two strong playoff starts for the Dodgers, the Astros battered him in Games 3 and 7 of the World Series, apparently because he was tipping his pitches. Nonetheless, the 31-year-old righty is arguably the top starting pitcher on the free agent market given Jake Arrieta's regression from his Cy Young form and the questions over how the since-signed Shohei Otani's stateside career will unfold. Reportedly, Darvish has narrowed his list of potential destinations down to six teams. While nobody has reported any dollar figures or hard offers, his status makes him an obvious candidate for my What's He Really Worth series.

Before coming stateside, Darvish spent seven seasons pitching for the Nippon Ham Fighters of the Japanese Pacific League, debuting when he was just 18 years old, throwing his first 200-inning season at age 20, twice winning ERA titles and MVP awards and adding an Eiji Sawamura Award for the NPB's top pitcher in either league. The Fighters agreed to post him to MLB after the 2011 season, and after winning his rights for a record $51.7 million, the Rangers signed the 25-year-old Darvish to a six-year, $60 million deal.

Thanks to his elite fastball velocity and a deep arsenal of eight distinct pitches, Darvish quickly found success, turning in the best rookie season by a Japanese pitcher since Hideo Nomo in 1995. He went 16–9 with a 3.90 ERA (112 ERA+) and 221 strikeouts (fifth in the league) in 191 1/3 innings, good for 3.9 WAR, and finished third in the AL Rookie of the Year voting; some kid named Mike Trout won unanimously.

Darvish followed that up with his best season to date in terms of ERA (2.83, fourth in the AL), innings (209 2/3), strikeouts (a league-high 277) and WAR (5.8, fifth in the league). While 2014 featured his third-straight All-Star selection and strong rate stats, (3.06 ERA, 2.84 FIP, 11.3 K/9), that season ended in early August due to elbow inflammation. After lasting just one inning in his lone Cactus League start the following spring, it was discovered that he tore his UCL and needed Tommy John surgery.

By the time Darvish returned, on May 28, 2016, he had been absent from a major league mound for nearly 22 months. He made just three starts before going back to the disabled list for neck and shoulder discomfort, a stay that lasted five weeks. His numbers in 17 starts (3.41 ERA, 3.09 FIP, 11.8 K/9) were very much on par with his pre-surgery body of work, and he helped the Rangers return to the postseason for the first time since 2012, though his lone start against the Blue Jays in the Division Series was a dud.

Last year, the final one of his six-year deal, Darvish turned in his most complete season since 2013, throwing 186 2/3 innings, striking out 209 and finishing with a 3.86 ERA, 3.83 FIP and 3.9 WAR. While he didn't avoid the disabled list completely, the new 10-day minimum allowed him to miss one turn with what was termed lower back tightness but what was really a strategic break. By that point, Darvish had been traded to the Dodgers in a last-minute trade deadline deal on July 31. Prior to being dealt, Darivsh had generally pitched very well; the 10 runs he was lit up for in his 3 2/3-inning July 26 outing—his last as a Ranger, as it turned out — raised his ERA from 3.44 to 4.01, but the subsequent discovery that he had been tipping his pitches quelled concerns about his health. Having been placated by this explanation while doing their due diligence, the Dodgers should have been particularly attuned to the possibility of further tipping after his first World Series disaster; their failure to identify it may well have cost them a championship.

The Dodgers did help Darvish in other ways, however, using that late August DL stint to limit his workload, tweak his mechanics, simplify his repertoire and improve his sequencing. Though he was cuffed in his first two turns upon returning, he finished the regular season on a roll that carried through the NLCS. With greater reliance upon his cutter and slider at the expense of his four-seam fastball, he posted an 0.87 ERA with a 35/2 K/BB ratio in 31 innings over five starts. When the Astros spotted him changing his grip as he brought the ball into his glove, they could tell whether or not he was throwing a fastball.

The pitch-tipping mystery may be solved, but Darvish’s track record for health, with a Tommy John surgery and further shoulder problems, and overall mileage are worth noting for any suitor. Between NPB and MLB, he's thrown 2,000 2/3 regular season innings; among pitchers who have debuted since the 1994–95 strike, only Felix Hernandez (2,415 2/3), CC Sabathia (2,364 1/3), Javier Vazquez (2,062 1/3), Mark Buehrle (2061) and Jon Garland (2,029 1/3) threw more through their age-30 seasons. Sabathia's still going, having bookended two good seasons (2012 and '17) around four spotty, injury-riddled ones; he's averaged 1.7 WAR with a 104 ERA+ in his six seasons following that workload. Buehrle lasted six more seasons, averaging 3.0 WAR and 108 ERA+, albeit as a soft-tossing, contact-oriented lefty, a very different style of pitching than that of Darvish. Vazquez had one excellent season, two good ones and one bad one before disappearing from the majors after age 34, while Garland made just 21 more starts in his career. Hernandez managed just 86 2/3 innings in 2017, his first year since that cutoff, due to shoulder bursitis.

That's not an especially encouraging group to compare Darvish to, nor is it a great fit for him, stylistically. A more relevant analogue may be Justin Verlander, a power pitcher who had 1,772 innings under his belt through 2013, his age-30 season. He's had ups and downs since, but has averaged 193 innings, a 116 ERA+ and 4.0 WAR in the four seasons since. Then again, he never underwent Tommy John surgery. All of which is to say that Darvish is in a rather unique spot.

As with Arrieta, Darvish's uneven track record makes for a fairly uninspiring first run through my WHRW model, which uses Tom Tango’s WARcel forecasting system, a WAR-based version of his Marcel the Monkey forecaster system ("the most basic forecasting system you can have, that uses as little intelligence as possible") that builds in regression and an aging curve as well. My WHRW model also uses research-based estimates of the cost of a win via free agency and the rate of salary inflation. The WARcel starts with a baseline forecast for the upcoming season using a 6/3/1 WAR weighting (six times the player's 2017 WAR plus three times his 2016 WAR plus his 2015 WAR, divided by 10) of the player's past three seasons and throws in a significant hit of regression (20% in the first year, or 0.8 times that weighted WAR). For pitchers older than 26, the aging curve is simply a baseline loss of 0.4 WAR per year, with no age-based acceleration as there is in the case of position players.

Using Darvish's rather modest Baseball-Reference WARs of zero (2015, his TJ season), 2.5 ('16) and 3.9 ('17), his 2018 baseline WAR of 3.1 gets cut down to 2.5 by the built-in regression, with subsequent seasons of 2.1, 1.7 and 1.3 for a net of just 7.5 WAR. Using the low-end estimate of $9 million per 2017 win and a 5.9% rate of inflation, that comes out to a valuation of $76.7 million over four years, the kind of contract that a healthy Darvish almost certainly wouldn’t sign. Casting that simplistic-but-useful mode of projection aside and going with a more advanced system, the well-regarded Steamer forecasts Darvish for 3.4 WAR via its RA9 flavor—that is, based on actual runs allowed (along the lines of Baseball-Reference’s version of pitching WAR) rather than based upon peripheral statistics (along the lines of FanGraphs’ version):

Individual pitcher performances don't tend to follow such linear patterns, of course, but for modeling purposes, it’s easier to think about in these terms rather than the reality of year-to-year fluctuation. Darvish’s performance doesn’t appear to be unattainable, particularly given his flashes of brilliance last year, which also included a 13-start run with a 2.83 ERA from early April to mid-June. I’ve gone to six years with run based on the industry expectations that Dodgers Digest's Dustin Nosler recently highlighted: those of FanGraphs' Dave Cameron (six years, $168 million), FanRag Sports' Jon Heyman (six years, $144 million), an unnamed—and allegedly more accurate—expert cited by Heyman (six years, $155 million) and MLB Trade Rumors (six years, $160 million).

Using the high-end estimate of $10.5 million per 2017 win puts Darvish’s valuation at $180.5 million over the six years; the $30.08 million average annual value would rank fourth among pitchers after the pacts of Zack Greinke ($34.417 million), David Price ($31 million) and Clayton Kershaw ($31.71 million), edging Max Scherzer ($30 million). I don’t think Darvish will get a deal quite that lucrative, but even the more conservative valuation above yields a $25.78 AAV, with only Scherzer and Jon Lester ($25.83 million) ahead of him and Justin Verlander ($25.71 million) right behind. It’s worth remembering that those contracts are all at least two years old, and timing is everything in that area. While the market is currently in stasis, its lack of depth in an industry that’s awash in cash—thanks to revenue having grown faster than salaries over the past decade (67% for the former, 52% for the latter according to Tom Verducci) and the sale of MLB Advanced Media to Disney (yielding a payout of roughly $50 million per team)—will likely produce eye-opening figures at the upper end.

Darvish is reportedly still considering six teams, namely the Astros, Cubs, Rangers, Twins, Yankees and, by his own account, a mystery team (believed to be the Dodgers). Neither the Yankees nor the Dodgers seem likely to go that high given their attempts to get under the $197 million Competitive Balance Tax threshold this winter, but that’s still plenty of competition to yield a contract in the ballpark of those two estimates.

Darvish’s history in MLB shows that a few glitches aside, when he’s has been available, he's been very good, producing 4.2 WAR per 180 innings. But as his own track record—and that of similarly hard-worked pitchers—illustrates, the odds of him staying on the field that long aren't high, and the mileage that his right arm has accumulated won't make doing so any easier. Like any pitcher he’s a risk and a costly one, but some team is certain to bite the bullet and go big.

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