The Cubs and Yu Darvish didn’t get off on the right foot after agreeing on a six-year, $126 million contract in February last year. Darvish made eight ineffective starts and otherwise was absent due to elbow and triceps injuries. The right-hander underwent debridement surgery in September.
Darvish started against the White Sox in a Cactus League game on Sunday afternoon and fared quite well as he works his way back to form. He held the opposition hitless with three strikeouts. After the game, Darvish was quite optimistic about his performance. Via The Athletic’s Patrick Mooney), Darvish said, “I’m throwing 97 [MPH] and the slider was very good and the split was good, too, so that’s the best stuff in my life.”
That’s a slight variation on “I’m in the best shape of my life.” Not to poke too much fun, because a healthy and effective Darvish is a fun Darvish. The 32-year-old entered last season with a 3.42 ERA and 1,021 strikeouts in 832 1/3 career innings.
Darvish will hope to be a mainstay in a Cubs starting rotation that also includes Jon Lester, Cole Hamels, Kyle Hendricks, and José Quintana.
The Washington Nationals, fresh off signing Stephen Strasburg to a $245 million deal, are now turning their attention to their third base hole. Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that they have made inquiries to the Chicago Cubs about trading for Kris Bryant.
Emphasis on the word “inquiry” because it’d be premature for the Cubs to trade Bryant at the moment, even if they are reported to be considering the possibility.
Bryant and the Cubs are awaiting word from an arbitrator about Bryant’s years-old service time grievance. If Bryant wins, he becomes a free agent after the 2020 season. If the Cubs win they control him for two more years. The team may or may not choose to trade him in either case as they are reportedly trying to cut payroll, but the price for him will vary pretty significantly depending on whether or not the acquiring club will receive one or two years of control over the former MVP.
For Washington, this would be a means of replacing free agent third baseman Anthony Rendon. Or, perhaps, the inquiries are a means of creating a tad more leverage for the Nats as they talk to Rendon’s agent about re-signing him.
Which, in the past, the Nats said they could not do if they also re-signed Strasburg, though I suspect that’s just posturing too. They may not want to spend big money to keep their World Series core together, but they can afford it. They’re going to see, I suspect, an eight-figure uptick in revenue by virtue of being the defending World Series champs. They are poised to receive a significant payout as a result of recent rulings in their own multi-year dispute with the Orioles and the MASN network. They are, of course, owned by billionaire real estate moguls. All of that taken together means that, if they choose to, they can bring back Rendon. Assuming he chooses to come back too.
But, if that doesn’t happen, they appear to be giving themselves options at the hot corner.