Though many top-flight free agents are on the market this offseason, Yu Darvish may just be the most prominent. With powerful stuff and serious ace potential, are there any reasons to avoid this signing?
As an opening sentiment, I fully recognize that Darvish has a seriously filthy arsenal of pitchers. When he is “on” and locked in, he may just have the dirtiest stuff in the game. Attacking opposing hitters in a multitude of ways, he has demonstrated the ability to pitch like an ace.
Moving on to his free agency and possible addition to the Cardinals rotation, it is seemingly difficult to think of cases against acquiring Darvish. Though it will be difficult, I will attempt to make such a case, arguing against the possibility of adding this 6’5″ fireballer.
World Series Meltdown
When trying to argue against Darvish, I’m sure one thing comes to mind for most fans: the World Series. While his performance was irrefutably terrible, let us not get caught up with just two games. After all, Darvish did succeed in shutting down the Cubs just a couple weeks before this notorious collapse.
With this in mind, please refrain from using his WS starts against him when forming your own opinion. He is seriously talented and has proven to be successful; no two starts can wipe that slate clean.
High Risk for a Top-Notch Pitcher
Honestly, there are only a few arguments to make against Darvish as an individual pitcher. He has undeniable filth from the right side, something that even the most well-formulated, clever argument couldn’t overpower.
With that being said, however, I do think that Darvish’s age should be considered. More specifically, Darvish will play the 2018 season at 32 years old. While this is by no means ‘old,” it is certainly not young, perhaps the beginning of the end in his previously successful career. Especially taking into account his fairly recent Tommy John surgery, there is truly no telling when Darvish will hit that wall.
With 32 years of age in mind, the Cardinals must assess what they want moving forward. Will Darvish give them two years of ace-quality pitching? Probably. Will he give them the same quality moving past that point? This is where the waters become murky. Darvish will probably want a serious deal, a seriously lucrative one at that.
With the Cardinals not necessarily “one pitcher away” from being a contender, is this really where we want to allocate the majority of our resources? In my mind, the financial risk is simply too high. With more than just a good pitcher necessary to reclaim the NL Central, the Cardinals would be wise to make a more cunning move.
Internal Replacements for Darvish
Furthering my argument to go low profile, one must understand the Minor League Pitching pipeline as it stands currently within the Cardinals organization. First of all, Luke Weaver proved himself to be legitimate last season, posting a 7-2 record in his first true season. Along with Weaver, one must not forget the somewhat limitless potential of the still young Carlos Martinez. Just a little consistency (perhaps maturity, too) away, his blossoming towards elite seems to be looming.
Beyond Weaver and Martinez, the Cardinals will soon regain Alex Reyes, the most talented prospect in the system, a pitcher with limitless potential. Assuming he can stay healthy upon return, he will be a force. Last but not least, Jack Flaherty is coming. After dipping his toe in the water this season, the polished, mature righty is poised to break through next year.
Put simply, the Cardinals have 4 serious talents coming along. If all goes correctly (health, development, etc.), this could be an unbelievable force. With a mix of styles and personalities, the Cardinals are seemingly 2-3 years away from becoming a juggernaut in the pitching department. With this in mind, these pitchers’ developments must be conducted with the utmost care.
They will require serious patience from fans and coaches alike, the chance to learn and grow naturally as a rotation. In my mind, adding Darvish will be detrimental to this project. Put simply, there just isn’t room right now. While Darvish would almost certainly be effective for 2 seasons (maybe 3), the 4 aforementioned pitchers could be collectively effective for 10. Is this something worth sacrificing for one pitcher?
Especially with Darvish’s age and relative inconsistency, I think the Cardinals would be wise to hold off. Bringing in a pitcher is not out of the question, but let it be a back-end vet, a seasoned presence to help cultivate this young talent, talent that could shine for years to come.
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