There are two primary free agents that would be very intriguing as frontline starters. The one of interest would be Darvish. Darvish came to the U.S. in 2012, and he’s been one of the most dominant pitchers in the league ever since, posting a strikeout rate in his major league career of just under 30% (29.7), which is typically a rate you only find among relievers.
Darvish missed chunks of 2015 and 2016 due to Tommy John surgery. He has seen his velocity return completely, and then some, and the big challenge for Darvish has been finding the feel on his pitches again, and that has come progressively through this season, and the performance he’s had in the playoffs is a good evidence of that. So far, he’s made 2 starts, throwing 11 1/3 innings, allowing 2 runs on 2 solo home runs with a 1/14 combined BB/K ratio in the playoffs.
Darvish is likely earning himself some significant money this postseason, and at just 30, he could definitely be high in demand over the offseason. It would not be surprising if he’s a $25M-30M per season pitch, and likely getting 4 years or more, so he’s almost certain to get $100M+. While I do think of the free agents available, he’s the one guy who would be “worth” that money, that’s still incredible money to sink into any pitcher.
After Arrieta’s 2015 season, many thought that when this offseason came, he’d be lined up to be paid in the class of the absolute elite starters in the game.
While his 2016 and 2017 seasons have been quality seasons, worthy of a rotation spot on any team in baseball, they were certainly not at the level of an elite starter. He’s actually taken some significant steps back in performance from his 2014 partial season and 2015 full season. He had a 27% strikeout rate and a walk rate that was 6.7% in 2014 and 5.5% in 2015. The last two seasons have seen Arrieta post two seasons in the 23% strikeout range with a 9.6% walk rate in 2016 and 7.8% walk rate in 2017. He’s seen his BABIP against come up from .246 in 2015 to .279 in 2017.
While Arrieta still pitched at a level in 2017 that would be a quality starter for any rotation, at a mid-rotation starter level (think Ervin Santana). He will likely demand much more than that level of compensation to sign him this offseason, so it’d be wise for the Twins to just stay away.