By A.J. Herrmann
The New York Yankees are still in the midst of making roster moves ahead of the 2018 season, and one area they’ve been looking to address is the addition of another young starting pitcher.
The Winter Meetings brought the massive news of Giancarlo Stanton’s trade to the Bombers, but while there, the Yankees also had discussions with the Pirates about a potential deal to acquire 27-year-old right-hander Gerrit Cole.
Those talks have since cooled, Ken Rosenthal reported Wednesday, however a different top-flight starter has recently made his way onto the Yankees’ radar.
Free agent Yu Darvish, still without a contract for 2018, has reportedly been another candidate attracting the interest of Brian Cashman and the Yankees this offseason. The 31-year-old righty has been an All-Star in four of his five MLB seasons, while he sat out all of 2015 recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Darvish was traded from the Texas Rangers to the Los Angeles Dodgers at last year’s deadline, and dominated in his first two postseason outings for Los Angeles before imploding in the World Series. In both of his starts against the eventual champion Astros, Darvish could only record five outs before he was removed.
Postseason struggles and injury concerns aside, Darvish would potentially supercharge an already strong Yankees rotation heading into 2018, which features the youthful electricity of Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery with the veteran leadership of CC Sabathia, Sonny Gray and Masahiro Tanaka, the latter of which competed against Darvish in Japan before the pair joined MLB.
Since his MLB debut on April 9, 2012, Darvish has been among baseball’s most accomplished strikeout pitchers. He led the Majors in 2013 with 277 punch-outs (finishing runner-up in Cy Young voting that year), and has averaged a sterling 11.0 K/9 ratio over his first five big league seasons.
His command is also masterful; Darvish has issued fewer than 90 walks every year he’s been in the Majors, and averages more than three times as many strikeouts (3.33) as he surrenders free bases on balls.
Following his Tommy John recovery year in 2015, Darvish bounced back to post a 3.41 ERA over 17 starts and 100 1/3 innings of work, while striking out 101 more batters (132) than he walked (31).
Darvish remains arguably the most talented free agent still available, with other hurlers like Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn also still seeking deals. There’s no doubting Darvish’s talent, but would the Yankees make yet another surprising offseason splash by signing the strikeout machine to a hefty deal? Only time will tell.