The MLB offseason has moved at a glacial pace as far as free agents are concerned, but one of the top free agents finally has a deal in place. Yu Darvish is headed to the Chicago Cubs, on a six-year contract, reportedly worth $126 million guaranteed.
While Darvish’s signing gives him plenty of financial security into his 30’s, and gives the Cubs a dependable frontline starter, what does his signing mean for the rest of the copious free agent market? Can Darvish’s signing ignite the MLB hot stove, and lead to deals in place for at least some of the other top free agents?
The 2017-2018 offseason has seen most of the free agents remain unemployed. It has reached the point where the MLB Players Association is going to open a spring training session in Florida specifically for current free agents, according to Yahoo Sports.
The MLB is officially in an awkward, and uncomfortable phase. Teams are more frugal than in years past, and the result is several top free agents still searching for homes. Among them (in no particular order) are Eric Hosmer, Jake Arrieta, JD Martinez, Mike Moustakas, and many others.
The Cubs’ signing of Darvish is the most notable free agent move thus far. But the MLB Players Association — and MLB fans in general — have to hope that several other signings will be on the horizon.
Hosmer, for example, has been linked to the San Diego Padres and Kansas City Royals this offseason. When the Royals traded Brandon Moss to the Oakland Athletics, the trade was viewed as an instrumental piece in the Royals’ plan to retain Hosmer. But that trade was completed on Jan. 29, and as of this writing, Hosmer still has not signed.
Martinez received a five-year, $125 million offer from the Boston Red Sox, but as of now there is no indication that Martinez will agree to those terms.
Arrieta has teams who are interested in signing him to a lucrative short-term deal, ESPN’s Buster Olney reported, but thus far he has has sought a long-term pact.
The MLB offseason’s unusually slow pace is puzzling simply because of the amount of talent available. Hosmer, Martinez, and Arrieta are impact players. They each have the potential to be a difference-maker for a franchise.
There has certainly been some notable movement this offseason, as the New York Yankees acquired Giancarlo Stanton, the Milwaukee Brewers acquired Christian Yelich, and the St. Louis Cardinals acquired Marcell Ozuna. But while a few teams have been active, wheeling and dealing in the trade market, the free agent market has largely gone ignored.
In an ideal world, Darvish’s deal with the Cubs would serve as the flame that the hot stove has been sorely missing this offseason. Pitchers and catchers across Arizona and Florida will begin reporting to teams shortly, and full-team workouts will follow. It seems MLB teams and free agents are in a holding pattern as of now, waiting to see who will blink first.
Darvish’s negotiations featured several teams, as the Los Angeles Dodgers made a six-year offer, and the Minnesota Twins and Milwaukee Brewers made five-year offers, according to Jon Heyman. Darvish chose the Cubs, but hopefully the amount of active teams in the Darvish sweepstakes bodes well for the many remaining free agents.