Chicago Cubs: The painstaking Yu Darvish sweepstakes near February
By Jake Misener
We are officially one day from February and the Chicago Cubs are yet to land their final piece of the offseason – free agent pitcher Yu Darvish.
Sigh. Okay, let’s just get through this together. I don’t want to still be talking about the Chicago Cubs and Yu Darvish any more than you want to hear about it. Still, it’s pertinent information and that’s what we’re all here for. (I hope).
For months, we’ve been talking about all the connections between the Cubs and Darvish. The New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers were going to stand pat to avoid luxury tax penalties in next year’s loaded free agent class. That bodes well for Chicago. Their main competition seemed to be the Minnesota Twins. And, well, when it comes down to it, I’ll take that bet any day of the week.
But now, no one knows what’s really going on.
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According to FanRag Sports, the Milwaukee Brewers (yes, the same Brewers that threw $80 million at Lorenzo Cain and traded for Christian Yelich last week) are making a strong push for the right-hander. With Jimmy Nelson sidelined for much of the first half, Milwaukee needs to add a strong starter before the season opens in late March.
After said acquisitions, most seem to believe they’ll address that need via trade. Domingo Santana‘s name keeps coming up – although there’s hardly a clear consensus about what type of player you’re getting there. But one way or another, I’ve got a strong feeling a top-tier arm is going to be in Milwaukee by Opening Day.
Cubs need a fifth starter – who will it be?
That obviously doesn’t bode well for the Cubs. Right now, Mike Montgomery slots as your fifth starter, which is far from the worst thing that could happen. But you can’t seriously compare Montgomery to someone like Darvish – or even former Cub Jake Arrieta.
So while Milwaukee getting Darvish would be awful, there’s a worse scenario being floated across Major League Baseball: the Dodgers getting back in the race for their former right-hander.
Joy. Such endless joy, the bounds of which I’ll never know. The Brewers picking up Darvish complicates the Cubs’ path back to the postseason. That much is clear. Whether or not you think Milwaukee is a clear postseason contender is a matter of opinion. The fact that they’re much improved since two weeks ago is not. It’s a simple truth.
Dodgers more dangerous than Milwaukee
But, as of this moment, they are far from Chicago’s biggest postseason threat. That honor, my friends, still rests with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals. And the former of those two teams landing Darvish could be a hard blow to the Cubs’ quest for a fourth-straight NLCS in 2018.
With the Japanese-born right-hander in-tow, Los Angeles’ rotation would look something like this:
Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Alex Wood, Yu Darvish and either Hyun-jin Ryu or Kenta Maeda
The top three are all coming off excellent 2017 campaigns. Kershaw is particularly interesting due to the opt-out in his current deal at season’s end. If the left-hander ever saw the open market, I can’t imagine the chaos that would ensue.
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Really, it’s anyone’s guess where Darvish is going to pitch in 2018. But, as difficult as it would be to see him in Milwaukee, I still see the Dodgers as the Cubs’ biggest threat to not only land their coveted free agent target, but have a shot at a second National League pennant in the last three years.