The hot stove surrounding free agent RHP Yu Darvish has been gaining some serious traction within the last week. After a report came out of the Yankees being among five different teams in play for the 31-year old, rumors began swirling of bringing Darvish to the Bronx.
It is no surprise that the Yankees are in on the Darvish sweepstakes, considering the dozens of pitchers linked to the team this offseason, but this may not be the best situation considering the current state of the team. Spotrac currently has the Yankees at $151.8 million for their payroll for the 2018 season, not including pre-arbitration players along with call-ups throughout the season along with any bonuses hit during the season. With the Yankees trying to get under the tax threshold of 197 million, signing a player of Yu Darvish’s caliber seems unlikely without some maneuvering.
How it can work
The Yankees can sign Darvish and attempt to shed payroll in other places by trading a player like Jacoby Ellsbury ($21.1 million), David Robertson ($13 million), or Brett Gardner ($11.5 million). Ellsbury has a full no-trade clause built into his contract which presents a major problem for the Yankees. Although the Yankees have tried actively shopping the 34-year old outfielder, Ellsbury has stated through his agent Scott Boras that he intends to stay in New York which makes moving him very unlikely.
That leaves David Robertson and Brett Gardner. Robertson is in the final year of his contract is still an outstanding pitcher coming out of the bullpen. Robertson was used as an ‘extinguisher’ last year for the Yankees after coming over, pitching in high leverage situations not determined by the inning of the game. His contract is very much worth his talent, and the Yankees can move him and his contract while still getting assets in return. He is a piece that could very well be moved in order to make some room for Darvish and is probably the most likely of the three to be dealt.
Brett Gardner is currently the longest tenured Yankee coming off a career year in his age-33 season. He is also a part of a very crowded outfield that currently has six outfielders. Cashman has always been a GM who makes it a point to deal from a point of depth, making Gardner a very interesting choice to leave the Bronx if need be.
Why making room for Darvish doesn’t make sense
Although the Yankees have these different options on the table, it is probably better that the team stays put on their pursuit of a starting pitcher. Currently, the Yankees are going into Spring Training with six serviceable starting pitchers (including Chad Green) along with multiple major league ready arms in the minors. The Yankees have three pitchers in Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, and Sonny Gray who all have the ability to command the no. 1 role on a staff, along with Jordan Montgomery and CC Sabathia who proved last year to be more than serviceable.
This team boasts what looks to be one of the most exciting offenses in all of baseball next season with Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary Sanchez anchoring the lineup, so the pitching staff should be able to have some wiggle room in close games. If every pitcher plays to their potential, the Yankees look to have one of the most reliable starting staffs in the MLB. Adding Darvish to that mix could be an embarrassment of riches, but it may not be worth the price, considering the Yankees being unlikely to get under the tax threshold.