I can think of 175 million reasons not to sign Yu Darvish, but I only need one. If you are looking for a Clayton Kershaw or Max Scherzer-type contract, you’d better be a true ace rather than a staff ace. There is a difference, as Sahadev Sharma indicates in this excellent piece for the Athletic (subscription required/recommended).
Though it is important to remember that the goal is to sign a player based on future projections rather than past performances, using cumulative WAR across seasons 2014-17, Jake Arrieta (18.5), Jose Quintana (18.4), Jon Lester (17.6), and Kyle Hendricks (11.8) all out-pitched Darvish (10.0). And though Darvish missed the entire 2015 season and part of 2016 due to an elbow injury, Hendricks’ numbers include two partial seasons (2014, 2017). WAR is not the be-all, end-all statistic that most think it is, but it does offer a decent way to compare the pitchers. In projecting those players for 2018, they would rank as follows:
- Quintana (5.1)
- Darvish (4.0)
- Hendricks (3.6)
- Lester (3.0)
- Arrieta (2.7)
Based on the size of the contract that Darvish is seeking — and for that matter Arrieta, Alex Cobb, and Lance Lynn — the Cubs may be better served to look at a low-risk option, such as signing Jaime Garcia. The lefty carries a career 56.12% GB rate and 0.83 HR/9 rate and pitched to a line of 4.41 ERA, 7.4 K/9, and 3.7 BB/9 in 157 innings for the Braves, Twins, and Yankees in ’17. Garcia and his worm-burning arsenal would do very well with the Cubs defense behind him. MLBTR predicted a two-year, $16 million deal for the veteran journeyman. It wouldn’t be a sexy signing, but Garcia projects to a 2.2 WAR for 2018, so there’s value there.
And though it seems like he has been around forever, Garcia is entering his age-32 season and has just 1,053 career major league innings under his belt. Sure, he’s an injury risk, but that’s mitigated somewhat by the low AAV of his predicted contract. Further, Garcia would make a perfectly capable fifth starter and represents a big improvement over the departed John Lackey, and there will be plenty of depth options available once spring training starts.
Cubs News & Notes
The Cubs signed veteran CF Peter Bourjos to a minor league deal yesterday. Bourjos gives the Cubs added depth in case Heyward, Kyle Schwarber, Ben Zobrist, Albert Almora Jr., or Ian Happ goes down due to an injury.
Dillon Maples and his devastating slider is primed to break out and the reliever could be one of baseball’s biggest surprises this season. Evan Altman discussed the upcoming season with Maples in a one-on-one interview from Cubs Convention last month.
Mark Appel, the former can’t-miss pitching prospect selected right before the Cubs grabbed Kris Bryant in 2013, announced he will be stepping away from baseball at age 26. What a stroke of luck for the Cubs that the Astros didn’t draft Bryant instead of Appel.
Bryant, David Ross, Dexter Fowler, and Shane Victorino had a “Rings Only” golf outing in Arizona.
It looks like there may not be a pitch clock this season. ESPN has a thorough breakdown, but Rob Manfred’s pace-of-play proposals submitted yesterday include hitters remaining in the batter’s box at all time, while both hitters and pitchers would have to be immediately ready once the commercial break in between innings comes to an end. The commercial breaks themselves would also be shortened.
Further, each team would be limited to six total mound visits per game, whether it is a manager, pitching coach, catcher or another player initiating the conference. Should these changes result in an average game-time of two hours and 55 minutes in the coming season, Manfred said a pitch clock wouldn’t be implemented for the 2019 season. The pitch clock also wouldn’t be used in 2020 should game times in 2019 fall to two hours and 50 minutes.
The Nationals signed former Cubs backstop Miguel Montero to a minor league deal yesterday. Montero will be invited to the team’s major league camp.
MLB announced that all 30 teams will extend protective netting to at least the far ends of both dugouts prior to the start of the 2018 season in late March.
Mr. Negativity thinks the Red Sox starting rotation for 2018 is a potential nightmare.
The Indians have shipped 10,000 baseballs and 72 tubs of bubblegum to their spring training facility in Arizona.
Tigers SP Daniel Norris spent the offseason growing a glorious beard.
Friday Walk Up Song
Tired of Waiting by The Kinks. I’m so tired of waiting for Yu.