The Padres are looking for a top-line starter to replace Mike Clevinger, who will miss 2021 due to Tommy John surgery, so you’re going to hear them attached to plenty of names. An early report from MLB.com’s Jon Morosi said that Yu Darvish was priced fairly to the market and “makes a ton of sense” as a target due to an existing relationship with San Diego GM A.J. Preller and the way the Pads match up with the Cubs.
Rather than just speculation, it seems as though Morosi may have been speaking on the basis of actual conversations. Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune wrote Friday that the Padres “have been in contact with the Cubs” about Darvish, though “signals from team sources have been mixed on how far along those talks are.”
After missing out on Japanese pitcher Kohei Arihara, who just signed with the Rangers, the Padres could now turn their attention to Tomoyuki Sugano. Though he is expected to command more than the $6.2 million deal given to his fellow former NPB star, Sugano is certain to come much cheaper than Darvish even before you consider the trade capital required to pry the Cy Young finalist away from Chicago.
That’s the real key, as the Cubs are surely unwilling to move their ace for anything less than two top prospects even if they’re engaged in serious cost-cutting. The fact that we’ve heard Darvish mentioned in so many rumors, including the prediction from Jesse Rogers that he was more likely to be traded than Kris Byant, means we can’t dismiss anything out of hand. At the same time, the Cubs are going to need to get such a big return that it’s hard to see the right deal materializing.
With their NL Central opponents getting weaker all the time and the competitive balance tax threshold still about $50 million away, the Cubs hardly need to do anything to remain competitive. And given the low trade value of most of their core players, it’s unlikely they’d get enough back to justify a firesale or whatever euphemism for “rebuild” you’d like to use.
So take these reports for what they’re worth and we’ll see how the rest of the market materializes over the next few weeks.