Dodgers: Why Creating Space for Yu Darvish is a Necessity


Free agency has undoubtedly been anticlimactic. Something that wasn’t foreseen heading into the offseason. The Dodgers need to take advantage and re-sign one of their own because of opportunity and need.

Former Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish is still a free agent, along with many other stars such as J.D. Martinez, Eric Hosmer, Jake Arrieta, and Mike Moustakas, among others. Players are angry, and the MLBPA believes that teams are threatening the integrity of the game, according to Tony Clark, the executive director of the player’s union. It’s led some to speculate about collusion amongst franchises.

As of February 6, only nine players had signed contracts of three years or longer, with most of them going to middle relievers. The tension has caused the MLBPA to go as far as to create a spring training for unsigned players.

This takes us back to Yu Darvish. He has been the target of numerous suitors such as the Chicago Cubs, New York Yankees, Minnesota Twins, and Milwaukee Brewers. The Dodgers have been in touch with him, but with their goal to keep payroll under $197 million (currently at $193.9 million), his return seems like a longshot.

But it’s time for the Dodgers to add to the $3.1 million they have at their disposal. Whatever your feelings are on Darvish after his two World Series starts, he’s still an ace and was a reason that Los Angeles tore through NL playoffs. He was excellent in his starts against the Arizona Diamondbacks and Cubs.

As of right now, the Dodgers have a rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Alex Wood followed by some combination of Kenta Maeda, Hyun-Jin Ryu and potentially Walker Buehler. But each of them has flaws which you’ll need to counteract.

Kershaw has missed over three months the last two seasons because of a back problem, and he isn’t getting any younger. Rich Hill has an injury history long as a Thanksgiving grocery list and is good for around 130-140 innings at most. Wood has had injury problems as well and slowed down towards the end of 2017.

Maeda and Ryu will always have the question mark of stamina, and Ryu has been Rich Hill-injury-prone since 2015. And Buehler is a rookie so who knows how he will perform.

That’s not to say all, or any, of these, will happen. But it’s more than likely that something will happen to one or two of them at least. Other than Kershaw, Hill, Wood, Maeda, and Ryu, the Dodgers don’t have any other established and dependable starter to bank on in case of emergency.

That’s why Yu Darvish would be the perfect option. He would be the undoubted second ace behind Kershaw, and he would also balance out a lefty-heavy rotation. He would once again form arguably the best pitching duo in baseball and slide pitchers 2-5 down one spot on the depth chart.

Imagine having Rich Hill as your number three starter and Alex Wood as your fourth. That would be a terrific luxury. That turned out to be one of the advantages the Dodgers had in the playoffs last year, albeit with Hill going Game 2 and Darvish going Game 3. Still, either Hill or Darvish in a Game 3 almost immediately gives LA an advantage.

He is the type of top-level arm that would make Los Angeles the NL favorites once again. He has a track record and has the nastiest stuff around. He will get you 200+ innings, something the Dodgers really need.

And more than that, signing him would mean their National League rival Cubs would not be able to get him. Neither would the Yankees, who are another ace away from potentially being the scariest team in baseball. Signing him would weaken the competition.

And with teams holding out this winter, and pitchers and catchers reporting to camp soon, Darvish may not have as much leverage as he thought he’d have earlier in the offseason.

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If the Dodgers can move Yasmani Grandal and/or Logan Forsythe, then options would start to open up. Grandal makes $7.9 million this year and Forsythe $8.5 million. That’s $16.4 million combined.

Los Angeles doesn’t need Grandal, and while Forsythe is a bounce-back candidate, the Dodgers have the depth to make up for his 2017 underproduction and then some. And they are both most likely going to leave as free agents after the 2018 season, so get some value out of them while you can. That value would be creating space for Darvish.

Moving those two players with the $3.1 available would theoretically give Los Angeles $19.5 million to spare, and with the current state of free agency, Darvish could (and might have to) “settle” for $17-$18 million per year.

Or Yasiel Puig can be another guy Los Angeles looks to move. Yes, he is coming off a breakout season, but his agent terminated his relationship with the Cuban because of behavioral problems. Who knows what it is, but it has to be pretty serious if your agent drops you. If the Dodgers are finally fed up, they may look to capitalize and sell high.

He’s getting $9.21 million in 2018, which is a bargain for a player of his age, talent, and production. Him, Forsythe, and Grandal are the teams most significant trade pieces. Matt Kemp should be thrown in their as well, but LA will have to sweeten the pot tremendously if they want someone to help pay his contract.

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Darvish also reportedly wants to return to the Dodgers and has been working out with Clayton Kershaw a lot during the offseason. If he really does want to come back as speculated, and the Dodgers were to clear space for him, there’s no question he would take less money (mid-to-high teens) to return and potentially five years at most. But the Dodgers need to take the first step.