Will he stay or will he go?
The ongoing saga concerning the future of pitcher Yu Darvish in a Rangers uniform takes another interesting turn. Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reported earlier this morning that Texas was open to at least discussing possible deals on the table for righty, who’s due to become a free agent after the season.
One team that was said to show some interest is the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs. According to MLB.com’s Jon Morosi, a trade between the two teams is more plausible now than before the All-Star Break.
The Cubs originally didn’t seem like a spot for Darvish simply because they were looking for controllable pitchers to stick in the rotation for the long term, while Darvish would likely be considered a rental before hitting the free agent market.
On the other side, the Rangers weren’t completely sold on idea of letting their ace go. In fact, Texas wasn’t sold on moving anyone while still in contention for an A.L. wild card. Plus, there was the feeling the club could also sign Darvish to a deal that would keep him in Arlington.
“I think wants to be here,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels told NBC 5 sports director Newy Scruggs last month. “In his own ways, he’s become a leader on this team. Behind the scenes, you see more than up front, just the way he handles certain personalities and how he interacts with other people. We would love to have him back.”
Important to also point out that Daniels said he would be open to talks and evaluating where things stand with the entire team leading up the trade deadline.
Now, here we are approaching the end of July. That deadline is right around the corner. A week of decision-making is about to happen.
The Rangers stumbled out of the gate after the All-Star Break, losing five straight, including a four-game sweep at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles. The wild card spot is slowing slipping away. The crazy thing is despite how bad the Rangers have played recently, they’re still in the chase.
Meanwhile in the senior circuit, the Cubs have caught fire, having won six straight games to start the second half and now have the N.L. Central Division title in their sights. The Cubs recently landed pitcher Jose Quintana in a blockbuster deal with the cross-town White Sox and appear to be interested in acquiring more arms for a shot to defend their title.
Let’s just say a deal happens and Darvish is sent to a contender, whether it would be the Cubs or anyone else who gets in the mix. Does that mean his days in Arlington are officially over?
Take a look at the New York Yankees situation with reliever Aroldis Chapman last season. The Yankees sent him to the Windy City and got a prospect package in return from the Cubs. Chapman helps the Cubs break the curse and win the World Series, and then returns to New York on a free agent deal.
It’s not out of the realm of possibility the same thing could happen with Darvish and the Rangers. That’s just the way baseball go.
However, Darvish may not be the only name floated out there as a trade piece for the Rangers. Catcher Jonathan Lucroy and first baseman Mike Napoli might also be on the move should Texas continue to slip. Just like with Darvish, both Lucroy and Napoli could walk at the end of the season. Even if the Rangers jump back in the middle of the wild card race, Lucroy could still be dealt to shore up the bullpen, which has been a big reason Texas is in this situation. The emergence of Robinson Chirinos at the catcher position has helped make that more of a possibility.
As for the here and now, Darvish takes the mound Friday night against the Rays in what may be the most important series of the season for the Rangers, at least right now. Tampa is one of the teams the Rangers will need to catch in the wild card standings. The good news for the Rangers is that Darvish is 4-0 with a 1.09 ERA in five career starts against the Rays.
Right now, it’s just the business of gauging interest. This time next week, it could be a whole new ballgame.