If the Chicago Cubs are truly committed to cutting payroll this offseaon, trading Yu Darvish would be a huge step toward proving they want to get it done.
Even before the financial hit of the truncated 2020 season, the Chicago Cubs were making it clear an effort to cut payroll would come this offseason. Trading Kris Bryant has seemed inevitable, but according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network right-hander Yu Darvish is now being made available in trade talks.
Darvish was the NL Cy Young Award runner-up in 2020, as he went 8-3 with a 2.01 ERA, an 11.0 K/9 and a 1.7 BB/9 over 12 starts (76 innings). He found something during the 2019 campaign, and he was even better in the short 2020 season.
Darvish has three years and $59 million total left on his six-year, $126 million deal. He also has a full no-trade clause, and he’ll turn 37 during the final season of the deal. So the time for the Cubs to strike on a deal to move him, at a sell-high point in his value before age-related risk comes more into play, looks like now.
So who might trade for Yu Darvish?
Early this offseason, Joel Sherman of the New York Post pointed to the New York Mets as a team that could trade for Darvish. They seem willing to spend or take on money under new owner Steve Cohen, and they might have just enough assets (prospects, cost-controlled talent) to get a notable deal done.
As a tentacle to his original report, Heyman offered the San Diego Padres as a possible Darvish suitor. General manager AJ Preller was in the Texas Rangers’ organization when they brought him stateside in 2012.
If Darvish can be compelled to waive his no-trade clause, the idea of a reunion with Preller could make San Diego a preferred spot. The prospect pipeline the Padres continue to have would give the Cubs the ability to start a reload on the right foot.
It won’t be easy to trade Darvish, with a naturally narrow market of teams willing to take on payroll this offseason. But if the Cubs are willing to eat some money to move him, just to relieve themselves of all the money he’s due, that will be proof-positive they are motivated to cut payroll.