Yu Darvish went from highly anticipated acquisition to one of the more polarizing players to wear a Los Angeles Dodgers uniform in recent memory.
After a disastrous World Series in which he lasted just 3.1 combined innings in two starts, including a Game 7 meltdown, Darvish has drawn the ire of some Dodgers fans all offseason. The right-hander has yet to sign with a team, and it’s been reported that he may be waiting for the Dodgers to clear some cap space before he decides.
This, of course, begs the question: Should the reigning NL champs bring back the All-Star starter?
The answer has many layers to it and we’ll take a look at a few.
Darvish is a four-time All-Star with a career 3.42 ERA, 3.30 FIP, and 1.179 WHIP. His stuff is nasty when it’s on and he did average 11.1 K/9 in his nine starts with Los Angeles. Even in the postseason, Darvish was great in the NLDS and NLCS, going 11.1 innings in two starts with 14 strikeouts and two earned runs. A full year with Rick Honeycutt would only prove beneficial, especially if the tipping pitches problem can be solved. Based on pure makeup, Darvish should be brought back.
So what’s the holdup? Ah yes, money. It’s believed that Darvish is seeking a deal worth $20-25M a year and with the Dodgers initiative of staying under the $197M luxury tax, that’s out of their current price range. If the front office can find a way to unload Matt Kemp’s salary, or even find a deal for Yasmani Grandal or Logan Forsythe, then Darvish can be had back if he’s willing to go a little lower than he might want. With the way the season ended and the organization’s seemingly deep pockets, it’s tough to see potential upgrades go elsewhere because of money but that’s the reality of the current situation.
The biggest thing in Darvish’s favor could also be seen as the biggest thing not in his favor: depth. Yes, the Dodgers have a handful of starting pitchers and Darvish isn’t necessarily needed; however, that depth has every right to be questioned. Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, and Alex Wood head the rotation, and that appears to be a solid trio, albeit with a few doubts. After that, the Dodgers will have a combination of Kenta Maeda, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Brock Stewart, Walker Buehler, Julio Urías (once he recovers), and possibly Ross Stripling. Buehler is expected to start the year in Triple-A and Urías is not expected back until at least the second half of the season, so the Dodgers are fully capable of making it through the first half of the year assuming no injuries. Making a long story short, the Dodgers would be better off with Darvish in the rotation.
There are reasons to stay away from the 31-year-old though. Beyond the money, the Dodgers have been reluctant to give long-term deals to players over 30. It’s been reported that Darvish is seeking a five-to-seven year deal, and the front office would much rather do four-to-five years. He appears to want to return to Los Angeles so he may make some concessions to do so and from what we’ve learned, the front office will only make a deal if they truly want that deal. Looking into the numbers, there has been some slight regression, specifically in his strikeouts and home runs allowed. To be fair, he did get his strikeout numbers back to normal with the Dodgers and the home runs were more of a league-wide thing; however, regression could continue with age and it would be a concern.
The biggest issue from a fan’s perspective is Darvish, the World Series, and tipping pitches. Yes, the Game 3 and Game 7 starts sucked. Yes, Game 7 sucked a lot. It still hurts. BUT that’s not a reason to deny the Dodgers bring back a quality starting pitcher that can help the team in 2018 and beyond. You have to believe that the tipping pitches situation will be resolved. If that’s fixed and Darvish continues to learn from the pitching staff, then a reunion would be beneficial for both sides.
Also, several Dodgers have publicly stood up for Darvish not only after Game 7 but during the offseason. He’s been seeing working out with Clayton Kershaw over the past couple months and that should be a big hint to the front office to try and make this happen.
Will the Dodgers bring back Yu Darvish?
We don’t know.
Should the Dodgers bring back Yu Darvish?