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Yu Darvish reportedly has five offers on the table. What does that mean?


What to make of these sorts of reports in this weird, weird offseason?

Yes, reputable reporters are reporting that Yu Darvish has multiple $100 million+ offers on the table, most recently and notably from the Twins, who could use a starting pitcher like no one’s business. That report, from Darren Wolfson of ESPN 1500 in Minneapolis, says that the Twins aren’t willing to go past four or five years. The reports of the other offers, from Ken Rosenthal, do not go into length, but given that Darvish has not yet signed anyplace, there’s likely something that is less than ideal to him in some regard. Contract length? Cities in which he does not wish to play? Could be anything.

All of which is interesting with respect to Yu Darvish, but I’m not too worried about Yu Darvish for his own sake. He’ll sign someplace, make a lot of money and, hopefully, pitch really well. No, I’m more fascinated with all of this as it relates to our curiously slow offseason.

We’ve heard, over and over again, that players such as Darvish and J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer have received $100M+ offers and, as a result of that, the real problem with the offseason is that the players are being unrealistic. The reports about such offers, however, are always selective. According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, such offers are supposed to be confidential. They never truly are, though. Sometimes agents leak them in order to gin up interest and bidding from other teams. Sometimes teams leak them in order to appear as though they are trying hard to sign someone in order to placate a restless fan base. Sometimes people leak it because it’s just kind of cool to know inside stuff and it’s even cooler when people KNOW you know inside stuff.

We can’t always know who’s doing the leaking, but if you watch these things long enough you can sorta tell. You know which reporters talk to agents and which ones are, almost certainly, passing along team leaks. We know Jon Heyman, for example, is connected to agents. We can guess that a dude from a local affiliate in Minneapolis is not tight homies with Yu Darvish’s agents but could very well have a lot of connections with the local team. The local team which just lost a starting pitcher this week and probably wants the fans to think it cares about that as much as they do. Makes sense, right?

All of which is to say that we should always take the reports of offers on the table with copious amounts of salt and, maybe, we should not use them as proof that the market is operating just fine and that this weird offseason is all a matter of greedy and unrealistic ballplayers misreading their value. Rather than assume that a player who is faced with multiple $100M offers hasn’t signed yet because he’s an idiot, maybe we should (a) ask whether those reports are accurate and not simply self-serving disinformation propagated by clubs; and (b) even if they are accurate, ask if there might be something wrong with said offers that might give a player pause. Stuff like being comically backloaded or, I dunno, identical to the same offer every other team is giving with no sign of play in the negotiations.

In any event, if Darvish has a lot of $100M offers and if the Twins, who really need a starting pitcher, are one of the teams making that kind of offer, he should sign soon, right? All it would take is for the Twins to add a year or a little money, no? If they don’t, let us ask why they won’t do so. And let us ask that just as loudly as we’d ask Darvish why he has not yet accepted one of these reported $100M offers.

Major League Baseball to launch an elite league for high schoolers

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This morning Major League Baseball announced a new elite league for high school baseball players who are likely to be drafted. It’s called the Prospect Development Pipeline League. It’ll start next summer and it’ll invite 80 of the best current high school juniors to play in a league in Florida from June through early July, culminating in an All-Star Game during MLB’s All-Star week.

The idea behind the league: to combat the current system in which a couple of pay-to-play, for-profit showcase leagues dominate the pre-draft season. Major League Baseball, schools and a lot of players’ parents have criticized this system because it favors rich kids who can afford to play in them. Major League Baseball is also likely quite keen on having greater control over the training, health and physical monitoring of prospects.

As Jeff Passan notes in his report about this, there will be a component of the program which involves live data-tracking of players during games and drills. Major League Baseball has become increasingly interested in such things but is limited in how much it can do in this regard due to labor agreements. There is no such impediment with high schoolers. Your mileage will vary when it comes to how you feel about that, I presume.