Ron Washington announced that Yu Darvish will start the Rangers’ first playoff game whether it’s the one-game Wild Card matchup or Game 1 of the ALDS.
Matt Harrison pitched last night and Ryan Dempster starts Game 162 this afternoon, so Darvish was the obvious choice.
Darvish’s overall 3.90 ERA isn’t great and he’s struggled to consistently throw strikes while walking 89 batters in 191 innings, but he’s definitely shown the ability to dominate a lineup when on his game.
Darvish ranks second among AL pitchers with 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings and third in the league with a .220 opponents’ batting average. And he finished the season on a very strong note, going 5-1 with a 2.35 ERA and 67/15 K/BB ratio in 57 innings over his final eight starts.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today says that the San Francisco Giants “have keen interest” in Rays third baseman Evan Longoria.
Longoria is coming off his worst season as a major leaguer, having hit .261/.313/.424 with 20 homers in 2017. He’s also still owed $86 million through 2022. Which, back when the deal was signed seemed like quite a bargain for the Rays — and likely has been over the duration of the contract — but now seems somewhat steep for the 32 year-old third baseman. That said, the Giants currently have Pablo Sandoval penciled in at third base on their depth chart, so Longoria would definitely be an upgrade, even if 2017’s dip wasn’t just a blip.
Nightengale says that for the Giants to take on Longoria, the Rays would have to take on a high salary veteran such as Denard Span or Hunter Pence. Span is owed $9 million in 2018, with a $4 million buyout on a $12 million option for 2019. Pence is owed $18.5 million in 2018 in the final year of his contract and has a full no-trade clause.
If he stays with the Rays, Longoria will achieve 10-5 rights — full no-trade protection due to being a ten-year veteran with five years of service on the same club — so if the Rays are going to move him, it’ll be much easier this offseason, not once the 2018 season begins.