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Thad Levine: ‘Yu Darvish is a priority for us’

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The Twins are prepared to make a play for free agent right-hander Yu Darvish and two-way star Shohei Ohtani, according to comments made by general manager Thad Levine on Sunday. While the club isn’t the presumed frontrunner in the Ohtani sweepstakes, they still have a significant amount of bonus pool space remaining and could make a compelling case for the 23-year-old’s services when he’s posted next month.

“He’s a unique free agent, but we don’t know a lot about him personally yet,” Levine told MLB Network Radio’s Jim Duquette. “It’s exciting for us because we have a chance to sign a player like him […] He’s a top priority for us.”

Darvish, meanwhile, could easily command one of the biggest contracts this winter. The 31-year-old right-hander worked a collective 10-12 record in 31 starts for the 2017 Rangers and Dodgers, supplementing his efforts with a 3.86 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 10.1 SO/9 over 186 2/3 innings. Over five full seasons in the major leagues, the righty has amassed 19.0 fWAR, four All-Star nominations, three 200-strikeout campaigns and a strikeout rate that has never dipped below 10.0 SO/9. As the top starting pitcher currently on the market, he’s projected to attract a multiyear deal upwards of $150 million.

Of course, Darvish and Ohtani won’t be the Twins’ only targets this offseason. Levine said that he’s been in contact with the agents for free agent starters Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb, as well as several back-end bullpen arms. Arrieta will also command a pretty penny in free agency, but Lynn and Cobb represent solid starters with much lower price tags and could easily boost a pitching staff that finished 22nd in the league in 2017.

Blue Jays could move Jaime Garcia to bullpen

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Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi reports that the Blue Jays are considering moving starter Jaime Garcia to the bullpen. If they go that route, Sam Gaviglio would start in Garcia’s place on Sunday against the Angels.

Garcia, 31, has struggled to a 6.16 ERA with a 56/31 K/BB ratio in 61 1/3 innings over 13 starts this season. Gaviglio, meanwhile, has a 3.75 ERA with 35 striekouts and 11 walks in 36 innings across six starts and two relief appearances for the Jays this year.

Garcia inked a one-year, $10 million contract with the Jays in February. The deal includes a club option for the 2019 season worth $10 million with a $2 million buyout.