NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Yankees would love to sign free agent Yu Darvish, but apparently not at the expense of the 2018 luxury tax threshold.
According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, the veteran right-hander is waiting patiently for the Yankees, or his reported first choice, the Los Angeles Dodgers, to take care of their financial business before deciding with which team to sign.
That seems to suggest that the other teams reportedly in the running for the Japanese star, the Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago Cubs, Minnesota Twins, Texas Rangers and Philadelphia Phillies, may simply be backup plans.
The Yankees’ current 2018 payroll is at $158 million, according to spotrac.com. However, they still have to come to pre-arbitration agreements with several players, including AL Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge, catcher Gary Sanchez, and ace Luis Severino. Though the Yanks will likely still be well below the $197 million luxury tax threshold once those players are signed, it’s unknown how much Darvish is looking for.
Some reports have suggested in excess of $20 million per season.
The Yankees can remedy the situation by trading away a big contract. The most obvious candidate is Jacoby Ellsbury, who is due slightly more than $21 million over each of the next three seasons. The problem is the 34-year-old outfielder has a full no-trade clause and so far has been unwilling to waive it.
Darvish, 31, was 10-12 last season, but had a good 3.86 ERA and 209 strikeouts in a combined 31 starts for the Rangers and Dodgers. Though he struggled mightily with Los Angeles in the World Series, allowing nine runs over two starts, he is 56-42 with a 3.42 ERA and 1,021 strikeouts in five major league seasons.
As it stands right now, the Yankees’ rotation consists of Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Sonny Gray, CC Sabathia and Jordan Montgomery, but each have issues that have pushed New York to seek some insurance. Earlier in the offseason the Yankees were reportedly in the running for right-hander Gerrit Cole, before he was traded to the Houston Astros, and had been linked to other young pitchers with controllable contracts.
Now it appears the Yankees are willing to hit free agency, but only if some housecleaning steps are taken and Darvish’s price is right.