Published On: Thu, Jan 11th, 2018

Burning question: What mystery team is in contention for Darvish?

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MLB’s Hot Stove, which has been surprisingly chilly, was burning a bit brighter Wednesday after a near-trade between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Houston Astros, as well as the New York Mets signing Jay Bruce to a three-year deal.

But perhaps the biggest news of the night came when free-agent pitcher Yu Darvish responded to a report claiming he’d narrowed his top choices to five teams by adding a mystery team to the mix:

Darvish is arguably the most coveted free agent available on the open market, so six teams being interested in the 31-year-old right-hander isn’t surprising.

The burning question on everyone’s mind, however, is which of the remaining clubs could be the mystery team. Here are three options:

St. Louis Cardinals


The Cardinals have been one of the offseason’s more active teams, and it doesn’t appear like they’ve finished all their business yet.

After acquiring pitchers Miles Mikolas and Luke Gregerson in free agency, John Mozeliak and his front office pulled the trigger on a trade for All-Star outfielder – and 124 RBI man – Marcell Ozuna from the Miami Marlins.

But the Cardinals may need more if they hope to return to the top of the National League Central now that both the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers look like contenders.

They’ve been heavily rumored as a potential trade partner for Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson, but it doesn’t appear that deal will be done. The Cardinals could instead shift their focus to building a dominant rotation, to which Darvish would certainly help.

Projected rotation with Darvish (2017 stats)

PITCHER GS IP ERA WHIP SO
Yu Darvish 31 186.2 3.86 1.16 209
Carlos Martinez 32 205 3.64 1.22 217
Adam Wainwright 23 123.1 5.11 1.50 96
Michael Wacha 30 165.2 4.13 1.36 158
Miles Mikolas* 27 188 2.54 0.98 187

* in Japan

Mozeliak had an hour-plus meeting with Darvish’s agent, Joel Wolfe, in November and the Cardinals exec said in mid-December that the offseason wasn’t over for St. Louis yet.

Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies made one of the offseason’s most surprising moves, inking former Cleveland Indians first baseman Carlos Santana to a three-year, $60-million deal.

Santana’s contract signaled the Phillies may be looking at winning sooner rather than later, and with their payroll being one of the lowest in baseball, they hypothetically have the funds to acquire anyone they choose.

While the Phillies haven’t been linked to Darvish, they’ve asked teams about other top-tier starters and the four-time All-Star would make a lot of sense for a budding Phillies team featuring a young rotation topped by Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasquez.

If Darvish was most interested in dollars and being part of an organization with historic ties, a rabid fan base, and one that appears to be on the upswing, Philadelphia would welcome him with brotherly love.

Los Angeles Dodgers


Yeah, yeah. Darvish blew it for the Dodgers in the World Series after allowing eight earned runs in just 3 1/3 innings, but he also helped them get to that final series, too.

Although a rival executive said in November there was “no chance” the Dodgers and Darvish would reunite, general manager Farhan Zaidi mentioned an interest in bringing him back.

While L.A. has a full rotation and are trying to get under MLB’s luxury tax after paying more than $36 million in payroll tax, they managed to get the salaries of Adrian Gonzalez, Brandon McCarthy, and Scott Kazmir off their books.

The Dodgers were one win away from capturing their first World Series title since 1988. If they believe Darvish is the solution to that problem, money won’t hold them back from re-acquiring him with their sights set on the big dance once again.



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