Dodgers: Why Los Angeles Could Still Land Yu Darvish


With Yu Darvish still looking to land a big contract, don’t be surprised if he ends up back in Los Angeles. The Dodgers’ payroll cut is they only thing standing in the way of a reunion.

It’s no secret by now that the Dodgers are looking to finally get below the competitive balance luxury tax in 2018. Trading Adrian Gonzalez, Brandon McCarthy, and Scott Kazmir was just the beginning of that process, even though it has technically put them under. The Dodgers payroll is hovering right around $190.4 million after taking on Matt Kemp in the trade with Atlanta. Not much to work with, given the size of the contract Darvish is sure to receive.

The Dodgers have exceeded the luxury tax every year since 2013, so getting under that mark is vital for 2018. Many Dodger fans had already considered Darvish out the door. And then came a very cryptic and very exciting tweet from Darvish on Wednesday. Darvish responded to a reporter naming the Twins, Yankees, Cubs, Astros, and Rangers as his final choices.

"I know one more team is in.- @faridyu"

That one tweet is really all it took for Dodger fans to lose their minds. Who else could he possibly be talking about than the team that he went to the World Series with? Who else could he be talking about other than the team who went all in on him halfway into a lackluster season? Of course, he had to be talking about Los Angeles. The real issue though, is whether or not that’s financially possible. If you ask me, oh heck yeah it is.

The Dodgers have about $3 million to work with in order to stay under the luxury tax of $197 million on the year. If they can somehow package a prospect to trade away Matt Kemp’s $21.75 million annual salary then they’ll be in even better position. But they don’t necessarily have to cut his contract in order to land Darvish on a long-term deal.

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Darvish will probably make an average salary close to $30 million, there’s no doubt about that. Even with his horrible playoff performance teams know his potential, and it’s worth the payday. Darvish does not have to have all that money up front though. Consider the contracts of Justin Turner and Kenley Jansen.

Both have fairly large contracts, but they are not making a whole lot in 2018. The Dodgers set it up so that they would be earning far more in the later parts of their respective contracts. Jansen earns $10.8m in 2018, but $18.8 in 2019. The same is true of Justin Turner, who will make $12m this year and $19m next year.  So why not do something similar with Darvish?

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The Dodgers could easily afford to pay Darvish a balanced contract though as well. There is this ongoing argument that the Dodgers need the extra money to attach to bullpen arms, and that does have some truth to it. But the Dodgers have 8 guys on their roster that could potentially be in the starting rotation. That leaves at least three of those guys as possible options for an already crowded bullpen. The simple truth of it is that the Dodgers already have the bullpen arms they need.

I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Yu in back in Blue.