Free Agent Matrix: Where will aces Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta land this winter?
While the hot stove is a beautiful respite from the dreary world, it can be complicated sometimes. To help, we've created the Cespedes Family BBQ Free Agency Matrix to determine where this offseason's top free agents could end up.
The top of this free agent class features two excellent right-handed pitchers: Jake Arrieta and Yu Darvish. Considering both pitchers will likely command north of $100 million, the list of potential landing spots for Arrieta and Darvish has some overlap. Let's break it down.
The Dark Horses
Brewers: The 2017 Brewers were like a Bon Iver album: delicate and heartwarming yet difficult to comprehend in full. But despite a patched-together pitching staff, the Brew Crew were in the NL Wild Card hunt until the penultimate day of the regular season.
While traditionally thought of as a smaller market team, Milwaukee should be able -- and willing -- to spend a little money this offseason considering it looks like their window is opening. Darvish or Arrieta could give Milwaukee their first true ace-level pitcher since Zack Greinke.
Angels: Though there have been calls for the Halos to trade (or even release) Mike Trout, we're firm believers that if you are blessed enough to have Trout on your baseball team, you have to go for it. Anaheim seems like a fun dark horse landing spot for Arrieta in particular as he and Parker Bridwell could join forces as former underwhelming Orioles now performing well elsewhere.
Mariners: The 2017 Mariners had 40 different pitchers throw a baseball for them (well, 38 actual pitchers plus Carlos Ruiz and Mike Freeman), tying an MLB record for the most different pitchers to appear in a single season. While a lot of that volatility was a result of untimely injuries, the M's rotation could use another front-line starter to pair with tall Canadian James Paxton.
There's been some Darvish speculation, but only time will tell whether those rumors are real or just an ill-Yu-sion.
Dodgers: While LA has a large cadre of internal starting options -- most of whom were injured in some capacity in 2017 -- they've always got the resources to go get a guy if they think they need it.
We know Darvish looks sharp in Dodger blue and Arrieta would give Justin Turner's beard a run for its money.
Rangers: You may not remember this, but way long ago, Yu Darvish used to be on the Texas Rangers: He was traded just at the deadline this past season for video game addict/top prospect Willie Calhoun. Could Darvish return to Texas? Potentially, but it honestly feels like a better landing spot for Arrieta who went to college in the area and feels like the type of dude who's completely immune to the insane Texas summer heat.
Cubs: Though it's certainly possible Arrieta returns to the North Side, the bottom line for the Cubs is that they need pitching; their current depth chart only lists 4 pitchers in their 5-man rotation, which is not how math works. Considering they have both the money and the need, the Cubs feel like an obvious landing spot for one of these two guys.
That being said, outfielders Jon Jay and Leonys Martin both showed some promise on the mound for the Cubs in 2017 and could be cheaper, albeit less reliable options, for their 2018 rotation.
Jake: Arrieta to the Rangers; Darvish to the Angels
Jordan: Arrieta to the Rangers; Darvish to the Cubs