With a staggering number of notable free agents still available, it’s only a matter of time before the dam breaks. Perhaps it will finally start with Yu Darvish, who according to Jeff Wilson of the Star Telegram has narrowed the list of teams he’s considering down to five.
OK, so maybe that doesn’t indicate a signing is imminent, but at least it gives us something to sink our teeth into after weeks of limited activity. The five teams on Darvish’s reported list are the Texas Rangers, Houston Astros, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, and Minnesota Twins. All five teams have long been reported as seeking rotation upgrades this winter, and Darvish, despite his postseason struggles, fits the bill.
It’s also worth noting that the Los Angeles Dodgers, the team that parted with three prospects to acquire Darvish in the final seconds before the 2017 trade deadline, are not on that list. Honestly though, it’s not a big surprise. Darvish didn’t seem all that anxious to return in the immediate aftermath of his disappointing World Series performance, and we’re guessing the Dodgers themselves are comfortable looking at other options.
That leaves the door wide open for the five teams reported to be on Darvish’s to land him, perhaps even at a bargain price compared to what we thought he might earn six months ago. Money aside though, we’ve decided to rank those five teams based on where we think Darvish would be the most comfortable and have the most success.
1. Texas Rangers
Call it a hunch, but it feels like Darvish would value comfort and familiarity over most other factors. If that’s true, then the Rangers make the most sense. When healthy, Darvish anchored Texas’ rotation from his signing in 2012 until the Dodgers trade last July. He could slot right back into that role and the Rangers could feel pretty good about how the whole thing played out.
Texas might not be the best spot to win now on the field, but it definitely feels like the best place for Darvish to be.
2. Chicago Cubs
If winning now is a bigger consideration for Darvish, then the Cubs offer an interesting opportunity. It’s reported they’ve been aggressive in pursuing Darvish. One report even claimed the sides had a deal. Darvish quickly labeled that report as “fake news,” but it’s clear there’s mutual interest. The Cubs are pretty good too at integrating new players into their system and making them feel comfortable immediately. That history suggests Darvish could hit the ground running in Chicago.
3. Minnesota Twins
Darvish to Minnesota would make the biggest splash. The Twins were a Wild Card team in 2017 and are poised to contend again this season. Darvish would help them fill out a rotation that relied heavily on Ervin Santana last season, and could be the piece that helps them go at least one step further. On a personal level, Minnesota would also be Darvish’s best bet to recollect himself without a lot of eyes on him. Not that Twins fans aren’t invested or the Minnesota media doesn’t care, but it’s not the same intensity as LA, Chicago or even Texas. That would be a big plus for him.
4. New York Yankees
New York would not be a great place to escape that intensity. Perhaps it doesn’t bother Darvish that much anyway, but there are other reasons New York seems like far less of a good idea than the other teams mentioned. Yankee Stadium is one. The short porch in right field is a problem for any pitcher, Darvish included. Facing the AL East isn’t all that fun either. Like Los Angeles proved to be, New York just feels like a bad fit. And the Yankees might have other plans anyway.
5. Houston Astros
The Astros are the most interesting team on this list based on the events that took place during the World Series. Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel was suspended five games after making a racist gesture directed at Darvish. Though Darvish has shown the ability to move beyond this incident, it would have to be awkward for Gurriel to ultimately serve that suspension as Darvish’s teammate.
That aside, it would be a different type of awkward for Darvish to be on and around the team that knocked him around to win their first-ever World Series. On the bright side, the Astros have been strongly linked to Pittsburgh ace Gerrit Cole. If that trade is the Astros primary focus, then the Astros aren’t realistic for Darvish.
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