As the Cubs continue to dissolve their 2020 roster, Yu Darvish trade rumors continue to swirl, with the primary trade target seemingly the San Diego Padres. As per Dennis Lin (via The Athletic’s Sahadev Sharma), the two clubs are deep into talks regarding a possible trade for Yu Darvish while “several” players would head to Chicago in return.
After coming to Chicago via the free agency route from the Los Angeles Dodgers in February of 2018, Darvish struggled immensely (mostly due to injuries) for his first year-and-a-half in the Windy City. Once his body mended itself, all systems were go, with Darvish competing for a Cy Young Award in 2020.
Yu Darvish Trade Rumors: Why Should the Cubs Let Go?
For all of the names mentioned, the Yu Darvish trade rumors have been the ones that have most likely caught Chicagoans off guard. Darvish has always been quite the strikeout machine, but his 2020 stats were unbelievably good.
Over the course of 76 innings pitched, Darvish logged 93 strikeouts in 2020; his 2019 stats (178.2 innings pitched, 223 strikeouts) were equally satisfying. The main difference between the two years? ERA. In 2019 Darvish posted a 4.18 ERA, while in 2020 he trimmed that to a very respectable 2.23.
So why the sudden outbreak of Yu Darvish trade rumors? Furthermore, it isn’t like Chicago is reportedly shopping him as they are others, only the Padres name has been in the limelight.
The problem is, the Cubs are reportedly trying to save money. One would certainly question getting rid of an ace starter while already down a pair of starters (Jon Lester, Tyler Chatwood) but the remainder of Darvish’s six-year, $126M deal would net Tom Ricketts a savings of $63M, especially enticing to the owner if prospects or rookies are the return.
The Cubs never used the word “tanking” for 2021, but it’s relatively obvious that may be the plan. Between Lester, the non-tenders (Kyle Schwarber, Albert Almora Jr., Ryan Tepera, and others), and now Darvish, the Cubs will have already slashed nearly $91M from the 2021 books if this trade goes through. Ricketts wanted to get under the luxury tax threshold, but $91M is nearly 41% of the 2020 payroll.
So what’s the plan? The Cubs haven’t been named as the recipient of any superstar trade rumors, nor has their name been mentioned in the upper-echelon sweepstakes for key free agents.
The Padres Side of the Yu Darvish Trade Rumors
For all of the ambiguity in baseball this past year, one thing has become crystal clear: The San Diego Padres want to contend, and they want to do so now.
They just completed a mega-swap with Tampa Bay for starter (and 2020 AL Cy Young Award winner) Blake Snell, and now they’re gunning for Darvish as well. While the Dodgers have become rather comfortable high atop their NL West perch, it would appear as though San Diego plans to change that in 2021.
The Padres made tremendous progress in 2020, and adding players like Snell and Darvish could only further their agenda. The bats are loaded on that team, hence the name “Slam-Diego,” and now pitching seems to be at the forefront of their offseason plans.
Cubs fans may want to batten down the hatches, as 2021 is likely to be an awfully long season.
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