The San Diego Padres' aggression and desperation know no bounds. Though many commended the Xander Bogaerts signing, not many teams were willing to go 11 years and $280 million for a 30-year-old that will begin his natural regression relatively soon at such a demanding position.
But that might not even be the most puzzling long-term financial decision for the Padres this offseason. On Thursday, they reportedly signed Yu Darvish to a six-year extension worth $108 million. I'm sorry, did we just hop in a time machine back to 2017? Sorry, don't remind Los Angeles Dodgers fans of that year.
Darvish is entering his age-36 season and was already signed through 2023, meaning this new contract will take him through his age-42 season. Though he's coming off one of the best seasons of his career, an $18 million AAV (which he's making this year) is kind of crazy for a pitcher on the back half of his career.
Unless AJ Preller has a fortune teller revealing to him the inflation numbers from 2024-2028, we're really having a tough time understanding how the Padres justified this. This means San Diego is optimistic Darvish can log 17 years of MLB service?!
Darvish's last free agent contract with the Cubs ahead of the 2018 season was six years and $126 million, which is just $18 million more than his newest deal.
Dodgers fans are wondering what the Padres were thinking with Yu Darvish extension
Then again, perhaps it's important to remind everyone that Darvish has been pitching professionally since 2005, when he was just 18 years old. He's withstood the wear and tear with some bumps in the road (Tommy John in 2015 and another elbow procedure in 2018), but bounced back both times with All-Star-caliber play.
For his MLB career, he's 95-75 with a 3.50 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 3.46 FIP and 1,788 strikeouts in 242 starts (1,488 innings). During his time in Japan, he pitched in 167 games (164 starts) and finished 93-38 with a 1.99 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 1,250 strikeouts in 1,268.1 innings. He has 2,756.1 pro innings under his belt at this very moment.
Compare this to what the Dodgers have done with future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw. After his seven-year contract ended, LA gave him a three-year extension. He's since received two one-year deals. He's making $20 million on a one-year contract heading into his age-35 season. Though the circumstances are a bit different (Kershaw seems undecided about his long-term future and he hasn't pitched a fully healthy season since 2015), on what planet wouldn't he have accepted a lengthier, more lucrative deal had the Dodgers offered if after the 2018 season?
The Padres' aren't afforded the same luxury as the Dodgers, though. LA possesses a rich baseball history and a winning culture that doesn't require offering risky contracts to lure the game's biggest stars ... or even overall good performers.
Props to the Padres for knowing their role, but this seems like a massive, unnecessary risk, especially with how flush the next two starting pitching free agent classes are.