The Cubs are still in the market for another starting pitcher to round out their rotation, and Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago reports that they have their sights set on free agent right-hander Yu Darvish. Darvish is expected to command one of the biggest contracts in free agency this offseason, however, and it doesn’t look like the Cubs have settled on a concrete offer as of yet.
The 31-year-old righty split his 2017 run between the Rangers and Dodgers following a midseason trade to Los Angeles. He posted a combined 3.5 fWAR for the teams and went 10-12 in 31 starts, complemented by a 3.86 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 10.1 SO/9 in 186 2/3 innings. More importantly, he paired his consistency on the mound with a bout of relative good health, missing just 10 days on the disabled list with a back injury and avoiding the shoulder and elbow problems that haunted him after he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015.
While Darvish won’t come cheap, any team interested in signing him won’t have to relinquish a draft pick in order to do so. That could sweeten the deal for the Cubs, whose pursuit of fellow free agent Alex Cobb appears to have cooled considerably. Per Levine, both the “price and length” of a contract for Cobb was prohibitive, and it’s worth pointing out that the club would have had to throw in their second-highest draft pick and $500,000 in international bonus pool money with any potential offer.
As for Darvish, he seems to have his pick of teams to choose from: along with the Cubs, the Dodgers, Astros and Twins are all currently thought to be in on the right-hander.
MLBPA player representative Max Scherzer sent out a short statement late Wednesday night regarding the ongoing negotiations between the owners and the union. On Tuesday, ownership proposed a “sliding scale” salary structure on top of the prorated pay cuts the players already agreed to back in March. The union rejected the proposal, with many worrying that it would drive a wedge in the union’s constituency.
Scherzer is one of eight players on the MLBPA executive subcommittee along with Andrew Miller, Daniel Murphy, Elvis Andrus, Cory Gearrin, Chris Iannetta, James Paxton, and Collin McHugh.
After discussing the latest developments with the rest of the players there’s no reason to engage with MLB in any further compensation reductions. We have previously negotiated a pay cut in the version of prorated salaries, and there’s no justification to accept a 2nd pay cut based upon the current information the union has received. I’m glad to hear other players voicing the same viewpoint and believe MLB’s economic strategy would completely change if all documentation were to become public information.
Indeed, aside from the Braves, every other teams’ books are closed, so there has been no way to fact-check any of the owners’ claims. Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts, for example, recently said that 70 percent of the Cubs’ revenues come from “gameday operations” (ticket sales, concessions, etc.). But it went unsubstantiated because the Cubs’ books are closed. The league has only acknowledged some of the union’s many requests for documentation. Without supporting evidence, Ricketts’ claim, like countless others from team executives, can only be taken as an attempt to manipulate public sentiment.
Early Thursday morning, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that the MLBPA plans to offer a counter-proposal to MLB in which the union would suggest a season of more than 100 games and fully guaranteed prorated salaries. It seems like the two sides are quite far apart, so it may take longer than expected for them to reach an agreement.