Twins Have $150 Million Ceiling for Darvish, Cubs May Just Be Upping Ante

As we’ve noted here more than once, the reports regarding Yu Darvish to this point have been fraught with innuendo and speculation. That’s why the Cubs signing a backup catcher to a minor-league deal Monday night was akin to Mrs. O’Leary’s cow kicking over a lantern.

Then came word that the Cubs were in “active talks” with Darvish, which understandably gave more weight to his close relationship with his former teammate. As we learned from Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Darvish indeed has an affinity for Gimenez after working together a dozen times in 2014 and also during the pitcher’s Tommy John rehab.

There had also been rumors that Gimenez was recruiting Darvish on behalf of the Twins, though that obviously isn’t happening any longer. When it comes to the Twins and their pursuit of Darvish, Berardino had more information Tuesday regarding exactly how far they’re willing to go.

Of course, we don’t know exactly where the line actually is for Minnesota and whether they’d cut off talks at $125 million or go right up to $149 million. Then there’s the matter of the contract’s length, since we’re talking about a $5 million difference in AAV in $150 million over either five or six years. That’s pretty big for payroll implications.

In the end, it comes down to a matter of perceived value and where the Twins believe their money is best spent. As Berardino points out, you’ve got a huge gulf between the Darvish/Jake Arrieta level and that of Alex Cobb/Lance Lynn. Is the juice worth the squeeze?

Speaking of juice, that could be exactly what the Cubs are trying to do to the top end of the market. Many believe it’s more than coincidence that the reports of revived talks with Darvish so closely followed word that the Brewers had made an offer to the pitcher. There was a subsequent report that Darvish had received at least one five-year offer, though no specific team was attached.

If the Cubs believe their rivals to the north were responsible for said offer, it’s possible they leaked news of actively engaging Darvish just to drive the price up. It’s been widely assumed that Milwaukee doesn’t want to get deep into nine figures on a free-agent deal, so perhaps they could be pushed beyond their comfort zone pretty easily.

At the same time, we’ve got just as much reason to believe that the Cubs were acting in earnest in the wake of the Brewers’ interest in Darvish. While there’d still be a gap between the teams, Darvish ending up in Milwaukee would go a long way toward bridging it. That’s not something the Cubs want to let happen, especially with all the young talent the Brewers have coming up.

The truth of the matter probably lies in some sort of hybrid strategy, with the Cubs legitimately pursuing Darvish while also driving his price up. There’s also the possibility that they’re sending a not-so-subtle message to Cobb, who’s yet to find a taker for a price that figures to sit somewhere in the four-year, $70 million neighborhood.

Now can we please get some to sign somewhere so we can finally start discussing reality instead of just guessing at everything?

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