Texas Rangers rumors: MLB free agent pitchers Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta are potentially in play for the Texas Rangers, according to Jon Heyman at Fanrag Sports. Heyman mentions the meeting between Darvish and general manager Jon Daniels as part of an interest the team has in bringing Darvish back, though there continues to be a pretty fair gap, it sounds like, between what Darvish is seeking and what the Rangers are willing to pay. Arrieta, meanwhile, is someone that Heyman says to “keep an eye on,” as the Rangers continue to observe the free agent pitching market.
The conventional wisdom was that once Shohei Ohtani picked a team, the free agent starting pitching market would un-jam and pitchers would start signing. Instead, things have continued to be largely static. There are two clear choices in the top tier — Darvish and Arrieta -- as well as two pitchers in the next tier, Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn. None of the four have signed, and one has to assume, with the holidays upon us, that they will likely all go into January still on the market.
Darvish has been said to be of interest to the Houston Astros, the Minnesota Twins, and the Chicago Cubs, as well as the Rangers, though it seems that all the teams interested in one of the top four free agent pitchers would likely have interest in any of the four. The Rangers have money still available to spend (though how much is not quite clear), and you can make an argument for any of the four being a good fit for Texas. Darvish, of course, still lives in the D/FW area, and has a familiarity with the team and the area, so he’s the pitcher that we tend to focus on.
Neither Darvish nor Arrieta appear to be a legit #1 at this point, but its worth remembering that $20 million -- which would appear to be the baseline annual salary either pitcher would command — isn’t ace money any more. $20 million per year gets you a #2, maybe a #3 starter (which is why Cobb, probably a #3 caliber pitcher, has supposedly had an ask that’s close to $20 million per year).
Its certainly possible that a team with money to spend and looking to make a splash could swoop in out of nowhere and sign Darvish or Arrieta to a big deal -- Philadelphia, for example, comes to mind -- but the longer this plays out, and the more it appears the Yankees and Dodgers are intent on staying below the luxury tax line, the more it seems the price on the big four pitchers will end up going down. And who knows...if we are talking about, say, 5 years, $120M to bring Darvish back to Texas, the Rangers might decide that’s a reasonable price to pay.