MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins are one of six finalists for free agent Yu Darvish, the right-hander confirmed via Twitter on Wednesday night.Darvish responded to a tweet that said the Rangers, Yankees, Cubs, Astros and Twins are finalists, saying he knows "one more team is in." Minnesota general manager Thad Levine,
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins are one of six finalists for free agent Yu Darvish, the right-hander confirmed via Twitter on Wednesday night.
Darvish responded to a tweet that said the Rangers, Yankees, Cubs, Astros and Twins are finalists, saying he knows "one more team is in." Minnesota general manager Thad Levine, who has a strong relationship with Darvish because of their time together with the Rangers, said on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursday that he was happy to see the Twins still in the race for Darvish, who is the top starting pitcher on the market.
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"It's fascinating when you see players announce their own markets," Levine said. "The beat writer that is now Yu Darvish is making announcements. However this plays out, it's exciting to see players of his caliber now considering Minnesota as a destination at this time."
Levine has said that signing Darvish is a priority this offseason, and Levine was assistant general manager in Texas when Darvish signed with the Rangers before the 2012 season. The Twins have yet to have a formal meeting with Darvish, but given Levine's relationship with him and his agency, the Twins don't believe it to be an issue.
Darvish, 31, is the type of frontline starter the Twins are looking for to join Ervin Santana and Jose Berrios atop the rotation, as he has a career 3.42 ERA with 1,021 strikeouts in 832 1/3 innings. Darvish posted a 3.86 ERA with 209 strikeouts in 186 2/3 innings with the Rangers and Dodgers last year. The Twins haven't had a pitcher reach 200 strikeouts since 2010 (Francisco Liriano).
But it's been a slow-moving market this offseason, and there are no indications that Darvish is close to signing. Levine said he's heard plenty of theories about the relative inaction on the free-agent market and said it could lead to shorter deals for free agents as it gets closer to Spring Training.
"I don't know that anyone has the answer to that," Levine said. "I do think clubs are starting to be a little more calculated and clinical with their evaluations. There have been extensive studies on contracts for starting pitchers, in particular. As Darvish has documented and the industry has as well, there may be six teams in on him. I still think the top end of the market will be handsomely rewarded. I wonder if we'll see shorter contracts but with higher annual values than we've seen in the past."
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter **@RhettBollinger** and **Facebook**.