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Report: Twins to meet with Yu Darvish

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The Twins are “hoping to get a meeting” with free agent right-hander Yu Darvish in the near future, Darren Wolfson of KSTP reported Friday. Darvish is one of the biggest free agents still on the market this winter, and the Twins have made no attempts to conceal their interest in him, though Wolfson says there’s no reason to believe the club has presented a formal offer just yet.

Darvish, 31, split from the Rangers last July in a deadline trade to the Dodgers. His second-half resurgence in Los Angeles lifted him to a combined 10-12 record in 31 starts for the two teams, augmented by his fourth career All-Star nomination and a 3.86 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 10.1 SO/9 in 186 2/3 innings. Despite his brief and disappointing performance in the 2017 World Series, he still fits the bill as a front-end starter and is expected to command a long-term deal in excess of $100 million.

Competition for the righty is fierce, but Darvish doesn’t appear to have entered serious negotiations with any of the suitors named so far. He met with the Cubs and Astros early in the week and took a meeting with the Rangers as well, though Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports the latter was an informal meeting between friends and not anything resembling contract discussions. Not only are the Twins positioned to contend again in 2018, but they have the financial flexibility to make a lucrative offer (not to mention plenty of space for an ace in their rotation) and may very well end up being a frontrunner for Darvish’s services.

Dodgers plan to tab Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of World Series

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MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports that the Dodgers plan to tab ace Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of the World Series. Nothing is set in stone yet ahead of Tuesday’s Game 1 of the World Series. In the event Kershaw can’t start Game 1, Rich Hill would start. Otherwise, Hill would start Game 4.

Kershaw, started Game 1 and Game 5 of the NLCS against the Brewers, then closed out Game 7 with a flawless inning. He was hit around to the tune of five runs (four earned) over three-plus innings in Game 1, but rebounded for seven innings of one-run ball in Game 5. He struck out two en route to sending the Dodgers to the World Series in the ninth inning of Game 7.

Kershaw also tossed eight shutout innings against the Braves in Game 2 of the NLDS. Overall, he has a 2.37 ERA in 19 innings this postseason. There was no doubt who would be the Dodgers’ first choice to start Game 1, but it’s a relatively recent situation where the ace of a team also closed out the final game of the previous series.

Hill has put up a 2.61 ERA in 10 1/3 innings this postseason. While he doesn’t have Kershaw’s pedigree, the Dodgers would be confident having him lead off the series. Hill was excellent down the stretch last year, helping the Dodgers reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Astros.

The Red Sox plan to start Chris Sale in Game 1 now that he’s recovered from a brief stint in the hospital due to a stomach ailment. The lefty has a 3.48 in 10 1/3 innings in the playoffs this year. He’s among a handful of candidates for the AL Cy Young award after posting a 2.11 ERA in the regular season, but his lack of innings (158) may hurt him.