Yesterday we heard that the Toronto Blue Jays came really close to the Rangers’ $51.7 million bid for Yu Darvish. As the day wore on into night, however, multiple reports surfaced suggesting that, no, the Jays didn’t bid that high and that in fact no team came anywhere close to what the Rangers’ bid.
I’ll accept that, I suppose. But I also can’t help but wonder if it serves a team’s interest to say such a thing after the fact, even if it isn’t true. Bid close and lose on a guy like Darvish and someone may accuse you of not having the guts to go the extra mile. Of miscalculating or something. Put the word out there that you were nowhere near the Rangers’ bid, however, and maybe a narrative is created in which the Rangers clearly overbid and, my, aren’t we wise for not being so silly with our money.
I’m not married to that explanation. I can see that it may cut in a couple of different directions. I just think it’s always smart to be somewhat critical when multiple reports related to information we can’t possibly know from other sources comes out. For every leak, there’s an agenda, even if it’s a small and benign one.
To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.
So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”
When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.
Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.