If their reported interest in Yu Darvish is really just a red herring, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are doing one hell of a sell job. Although they may have just tipped their pitch. According to The Score’s Bruce Levine, the Cubs execs hopped a flight to Dallas with the presumed intention of meeting with the former Rangers pitcher.
Cubs Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer landed in Dallas this afternoon. Free agent Yu Darvish meeting is likely destination for the two execs.
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) December 18, 2017
Maybe this has nothing to do with Darvish and the real goal is to get in a crazy long tailgating session prior to the Cowboys/Seahawks game on Christmas Eve. But let’s assume Levine is on point with his assumption, which is a safe bet, and that Epstoyer is/are really serious about wooing the top pitcher on the free agent market. This would indicate that not only are the Cubs in more of a win-now mode than we’d perhaps thought, but also that the top end of the market may have come down a little.
Or maybe it’s more about the gap between the top and middle shrinking enough that it’s actually more economically responsible to spend more. Even though meeting Darvish’s projected contract of six years and $150 million would be anything but frugal, it’d be doable for the Cubs. And while it could put a strain on their ability to go big in next year’s free agency period, there’s value in having a sure thing rather than waiting for what might be.
There’s also the possibility that the front office has been given the green-light to blow through the luxury tax threshold if the right circumstances present themselves. Which is to say that an opportunity to land a transcendent talent next winter might be worth the penalties the Cubs would incur as a result. After all, having the rotation set for at least three more years and a position-player core locked in for at least that long would mean they could afford to lose out on some picks here and there. But if they aren’t signing players with qualifying offers attached, those penalties aren’t quite as harsh anyway.
But that’s all getting just a wee bit deep into the speculative waters, and I noticed a riptide warning before I started wading out here. What we can say with relative certainty is that signing Darvish would mean that Jake Arrieta is absolutely off-limits (but you already knew that), as is Wade Davis. The salaries just wouldn’t make sense and the Cubs have already added a pair of relievers who can close games.
If I’m being completely honest, I’m not a big fan of getting Darvish for as much as he’s likely to command and that’s a hill I climbed up on a while back. I’m not willing to die there, though, so I’ll just wait to see where things go. But what do you think, dear reader: Is this legit and, if so, is it a good idea?