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BRAIN ATHLETE SPORTZ

Padres “Deep” Into Talks To Acquire Yu Darvish, Have Also Discussed Contreras, Caratini

12:28pm: The Padres are focused on more than Darvish alone, per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman and the New York Post’s Joel Sherman (Twitter link). Both suggest that the talks between the Cubs and Padres could be expanded to include one of Willson Contreras or Victor Caratini.

11:56am: Despite last night’s agreement to acquire Blake Snell from the Rays, the Cubs are also “deep” in talks on a trade that would send Yu Darvish from Chicago to San Diego, according to Dennis Lin, Patrick Mooney and Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic (Twitter link). R.J. Anderson of CBS Sports first indicated that the Padres were still in the mix for Darvish even after landing Snell. Importantly, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman tweets that San Diego is not on Darvish’s 12-team no-trade list, so the deal can be made without requiring Darvish’s approval.

If completed, the Darvish trade could be the next step in another dizzying flurry of headline-grabbing transactions from general manager A.J. Preller. In addition to Snell and the potential Darvish deal, the Padres are also reported to be the favorites to sign KBO superstar Ha-Seong Kim. If all three moves come to fruition, this sequence would hearken back to Preller’s inaugural offseason, wherein Matt Kemp dubbed him the “Rock Star” GM — and back to this summer’s frenzied series of trade deadline acquisitions. Few front offices around the game act as boldly and decisively as the Padres when a course is set, and the Snell acquisition clearly looks to have set some dominos in motion.

It’s at least possible there’s a connection between today’s pair of Friars rumors; the Cubs surely want controllable young talent, and a player like Jake Cronenworth would certainly be of interest to them in a Darvish deal. That’s speculative on my part, to be clear, but it’s not hard to see how those pieces could fit into place. Alternatively, if the Cubs were to send an outfielder with a notable salary back to Chicago to help offset Darvish’s contract (e.g. Tommy Pham, Wil Myers), Cronenworth could move into the outfield if needed.

Darvish, 34, is still owed $62MM over the next three seasons as part of the six-year, $126MM he initially signed with the Cubs prior to the 2018 season. The first year of that massive contract could scarcely have gone worse, as Darvish was limited to just 40 innings due to a series of injuries that culminated in arthroscopic elbow surgery.

At that point, few would’ve imagined Darvish resurfacing as both a front-line starter and a highly sought-after trade commodity, but that’s exactly what’s happened. Darvish finished second in National League Cy Young voting in 2020, thanks to a brilliant 2.01 ERA and 93-to-13 K/BB ratio through 76 innings. However, his renaissance extends further back than that. Dating back to Memorial Day 2019, Darvish has made 32 starts and totaled 199 2/3 innings of 2.84 ERA/3.04 FIP ball with averages of 11.5 strikeouts and 2.4 walks per nine frames. At less than $21MM a year, this version of Darvish looks like a relative bargain, though buying his age-34, age-35 and age-36 seasons obviously still carries risk.

The very notion of a rotation featuring some combination of Snell, Darvish, Dinelson Lamet, Chris Paddack, Zach Davies and MacKenzie Gore is a dream scenario for Padres fans — the type of starting staff that would give the Friars a group to go toe-to-toe with the perennial division winners up in Los Angeles. Few teams in the game could boast such a deep and talented group of starting pitchers, and while Davies is a free agent next winter, the Padres will get Mike Clevinger back from Tommy John surgery for the 2022 season. A 2022 group of Snell, Darvish, Lamet, Clevinger and Gore has the potential to be utterly overwhelming.

More to come.

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