Report: Darvish to Decide Before Christmas, Cubs Apparently Still Favorites

Though we sort of brushed it off at the time, a brief report from Japan’s Nikkan Sports last week calling the Cubs the “dominant candidate” in the race to land Yu Darvish may have been accurate. Further reports from domestic beat writers followed in the wake of that initial blurb, then the Cubs flew to Dallas to meet with Darvish in person.

The pitcher himself shared his thoughts on Monday’s summit via Twitter, expressing a growing comfort with the Cubs cadre as well as with his own grasp of English. Darvish even seemed to indicate that a future meeting was in the offing, but it turned out that he was actually getting together with the Astros Tuesday afternoon.

It was further reported by MLB Network Radio’s Jim Bowden that Darvish would also sit down with the Rangers, though that appears to be nothing more than a formality. Jeff Wilson, who covers the Rangers for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, tweeted that it was simply a matter of Darvish and GM Jon Daniels sitting down to dinner.

“[J]ust a GM and a star free agent have a meal,” Wilson wrote, citing sources. “No agents. No business. Rangers have no formal meeting planned to discuss baseball business.”

Darvish kinda-sorta confirmed the report by quote-tweeting Wilson with a smiley-face emoji. [Looks around] Did I really just write that line? Why yes, yes I did.

Though the timing of “just dinner” might seem a little strange in light of the heavy competition for Darvish’s services, there’s really no reason to doubt the veracity of Wilson’s report. After all, the Rangers wooed the star pitcher in the first place, he spent nearly all six seasons of his career with the team, and he makes his offseason home in Dallas.

But on to more interesting matters, at least as far as the Cubs are concerned. Roughly two hours before his cheeky response to Wilson, Darvish tweeted out an article from Nikkan Sports titled, Darvish ‘negotiating with the brain’, countdown with Cubs. Well, that’s according to Google’s translation, which we’ve noted here before is notoriously suspect when converting Japanese to English.

That said, it’s still possible to glean some salient information from the report, though it takes a little patience and an eye for nuance to really pick it up. What I mean there is that you have to look past the very obvious mistakes in the translation to find the heart of the matter. There’s also an unintentional metaphor created by the linguistic conversion that is actually kind of funny. [All emphasis below mine]

The Cubs, which advances reinforcement of the starting pitchers, was still serious enough. On the afternoon of this afternoon Epstein president, Huyer GM and other front leaders entered Dallas, and negotiated directly with Darvish and agents. Transfer negotiations are usually done in confidence. However, Darvish himself reported negotiations with Cubs over twenty-three hours and half, and the “honeymoon relationship” at the end of successful negotiations was evident.

The movement of the armies was quick. In addition to Leicester, Hendrix and Quintana at the present time, we secured four of the earlier Chatwoods that were reinforced now, but we were also negotiating with Alex Cobb (30 = Raise FA), which was temporarily regarded as powerful.

Until now, we have been promoting underwater negotiations with agents, whereas “direct firing” by the camp leaders also means the final stage of the negotiations. Besides the army, Twins and Astros are also interested, but even in terms of conditions that multiple-year contracts of 5 to 6 years are anticipated to be expected for 25 million dollars a year (about 2.8 billion yen), the overwhelming The advantage does not move.

The forces also prepared a familiar jersey number “11” for Darvish. There is a high possibility of rapid development due to direct negotiations with the Army, which has always had the capability to target the world and has abundant financial resources. Before Christmas vacation, Darvish ‘s new place will be decided.

This reads like the report of a military exercise, what with all the talk of advancement, “direct firing,” and “the capability to target the world (with) abundant resources.” And while I probably could have gone in there and cleaned a few things up, I think it’s best to keep my editing skills to the use of the only language I know to any significant degree.

Even with the lack of fidelity evident in the text above, the highlighted sections paint a pretty clear picture. We should still be careful with things like “honeymoon period” and “final stage of the negotiations,” though it’s hard not to put serious stock in them when you pair those thoughts up with the news that the Cubs (or that’s who I’m taking it as) prepared a jersey for Darvish with the 11 he wore in Texas.

We can also be fairly certain that the whole matter will be wrapped up (get it, because you wrap gifts?) in the next few days. Not only is expedience alluded to more than once in the report, but the final line is easily the most definitive text and doesn’t really leave itself open to same translation issues we see elsewhere: Before Christmas vacation, Darvish ‘s new place will be decided.

All I want for Christmas is Yu, though I suppose he’d make a helluva belated Hanukkah gift as well. As unexpected as this all might have been even a week ago, it’s quickly reached the point where it’ll be disappointing if the Cubs don’t get it done. Even though such a big splash comes with considerable risk, signing Darvish makes a lot of sense for the Cubs and could really put them in better position to leverage their competitive window.

And not that they would commit $150 million just to please a few fans, but it sure would be fun to see the reaction Darvish would get at Cubs Convention in January.


Ed. note: Darvish actually denied the timeline in the report, tweeting: It is not Honeymoon relationship at all and I will not decide by Christmas. It is flat to the last for all teams.

While we could take this as a flat denial with absolutely zero pretense, it’s also important to frame it with the proper context. Which is to say that several teams are involved in this and it’s not great for leverage when a report says one team’s the leader and Darvish going to decide soon.

That could be why the Yankees and Dodgers suddenly popped up as potential Darvish suitors in a recent rumor roundup (subscription required/recommend) from Ken Rosenthal. But the Dodgers just got themselves under the luxury tax threshold by sending a ton of salary to Atlanta in exchange for Matt Kemp and the Yankees have been trying to bring their tax number down as well.

Then you consider that LA may be faced with the need to re-sign Clayton Kershaw if he opts out of his deal after 2018. And we’re talking about a guy set to earn $35 million in ’19 and ’20, so he ain’t coming cheap. What I’m driving at is that this smacks of a savvy move to keep teams in the mix a little longer after initial offers were maybe not as high as what Darvish’s agent was looking for.


Nikkan Sports published two separate updates to their Darvish story, though both served mainly to note his aforementioned denials. There was, however, a very interesting note at the conclusion of the first update, that could be telling. And while it’s probably nothing more than a quick of the translation, the final line of that piece reads: He emphasized that both teams are negotiating contracts on “flat.”

Did you catch it? It says “both teams,” as it just the Cubs and Astros, which could mean that the stuff about the Yankees and Dodgers is indeed bunk. The Twins were noted in the original report as well, which is why my ears really perked up with I saw this. Alas, it’s probably either a snafu of the translation or just the report itself.

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