So of course a report like this would be brought to my attention (h/t Brett Taylor of Bleacher Nation) not long after I publish something about how the Cubs’ payroll situation prevents them from signing either of the top two starters on the market. Mind you, I’m not saying that there is any truth to said report from Nikkan Sports, just that the timing struck me as funny.
The elephant in the room here is the translation, which is awful at best. So much nuance and meaning can be lost when you’re relying on the interwebs to tell you what was written, that it’s difficult to put much faith in stuff like this.
What makes that a little easier to do in this case is the utter lack of any detail, which you can discern from the abbreviated length even if the characters mean absolutely nothing to you. The only parts I can make sense of are Darvish’s age and the fact that he’s a free agent, since those are pretty obvious. There’s a screenshot of the original report below and I’ve included the Google translation as well.
Last year the world’s first Cubs emerged as the dominant candidate for the transfer of Darvish pitcher (31) who became FA (free agent) from Dodgers.
Twins, Astros and others are showing strong interest, full-fledged teams with abundant financial capabilities participate. For the end of the year, fierce battles have been spreading.
Whoa, yeah, that’s just a little stilted. Regardless of the clunky linguistics, it’s pretty clear that this is saying the Cubs the front-runners, or “dominant candidate” to sign Darvish as a free agent. Moving past the translation itself, I find it very hard to buy into what I’m reading here.
You may recall a previous report from Nikkan Sports saying that Shohei Ohtani had narrowed his choice of MLB teams to five prior to his decision to put seven squads in the final group. Though I suppose it’s possible that the two-way player with the bum elbow could have thrown two of the finalists in there just to throw people off his scent, as silly as that seems.
The Cubs have most certainly checked in on Darvish, as they have with pretty much every pitcher on the market, but their payroll situation and his asking price don’t figure to match up too well. We’re probably talking something like $25 million AAV over the next six years, which leaves little breathing room for other acquisitions, either at mid-season or next winter.
My guess would be that the nuance we’re missing is that the Cubs are a viable candidate rather than the dominant candidate. So it’s still much more likely that we see Alex Cobb or a trade to add that fifth starter, though I know better than to completely slam the door on anything at this point.
Bruce Levine seemed to confirm that the Cubs are indeed checking on Darvish, though he doesn’t note the level of interest or seriousness of the talks.
Something to keep your eye on . Cubs in on numerous pitchers and are kicking the tires on Yu Darvish now .
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) December 16, 2017