MLB Rumors: Yu Darvish, Josh Harrison, and other news (Jan 31st, 2018)
We’re only two weeks and change away from Spring Training and the offseason business is nowhere near done. What’s moving and shaking in the group?
We continue to endure one of the slowest offseasons in recent memory. A few trades have gone down (Andrew McCutcheon to the Giants, Christian Yelich to the Brewers, etc), but most of the top free agents are still unsigned, and there may still be a few trades to be made.
Today, we’ll look at the potential fate of one of the game’s top pitchers, further possible blows to fans in Pittsburgh and Miami, and no end to the dealing in Milwaukee. This is the Rumor Roundup.
Darvish to sign this week?
One of the biggest free agent dominoes yet to fall is Yu Darvish. The right-hander is easily the cream of the free agent class in terms of starting pitching, and it looks like he may finally find a home.
On Monday MLB.com relayed a report from Jon Heyman that Darvish may be a Chicago Cub by the end of the week. This is a move that makes a ton of sense for the Cubs, who figure to lose Jake Arrieta and John Lackey from the rotation in free agency (eventually) this winter. Theo Epstein has already filled one of these gaps by signing Tyler Chatwood from the Rockies, but the Cubbies need someone to join a fading Jon Lester at the top of the rotation and Darvish is likely their best move.
Darvish has had some level of interest from the Phillies, Twins, Brewers, and Yankees this summer, but the Yankees look an unlikely spot as they try to get under the luxury tax, while the Twins have apparently deemed him too rich for their blood. The Cubs seem like the best fit: he fits neatly into their biggest hole.
Mets still lurk for Harrison
The New York Mets were in on McCutcheon before he was traded to the Giants, but were unwilling to pay the price the Pirates demanded. But they could still be in touch with Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington for another trade chip.
The Amazin’s are slim on the infield this year. Second baseman Neil Walker was traded to the Brewers in August and third baseman (and team talisman) David Wright isn’t likely to ever play again—nor should he, really. Spine and neck issues are not joke.
As it stands they are likely to go into the season with Wilmer Flores at third and Asdrubal Cabrera at second, which isn’t exactly optimal. That’s where the Pirates come in.
Second baseman Josh Harrison has always been seen as available this winter, especially after the departure of McCutcheon and Gerrit Cole. According to the New York Post’s Mike Puma (h/t CBS Sports) the Mets are continuing a dialogue with the Pirates about a trade for Harrison.
Puma does mention that a solution out of the free agent market is more likely—Walker is available, as is Todd Frazier to play third, but it stands to reason that Harrison might be the next to be traded in Pittsburgh, so the situation is worth monitoring.
Brew Crew not done?
The Brewers made some serious noise last week by trading for Yelich and signing Lorenzo Cain. Those moves created a bit of a logjam in the outfield, with talented youngsters Jonathan Broxton and Domingo Santana now looking like odd men out unless Ryan Braun somehow changes position—an unlikely scenario.
That means the Brewers are likely to shop the two youngsters for pitching help, with USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reporting last week that Santana and Brett Phillips have been made available. Craig Counsell will need some pitching help if he wants to challenge the Cubs atop the NL Central in 2018. Surprise ace Jimmy Nelson won’t be back until the middle of the season after tearing his labrum sliding into a base in September. They have decent pitchers in the #2 and #3 slots in Chase Anderson and Zach Davies, but after that are question marks, and there’s no telling how much rust Nelson will have to shake off upon his return.
As mentioned above, the Brewers have reportedly kicked the tires on Darvish, but are likely out of that race. Perhaps a lower-tier free agent signing like Alex Cobb or Lance Lynn could be in the cards, but right now they seem set on using their prospect depth to address their needs via trade.