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Twins are still looking to land free-agent Yu Darvish

Darvish has been linked to the Twins since well before the Winter Meetings

The Minnesota Twins are one of those bubble teams that could become a real contender in 2018, but they need some help with their rotation that's why they haven't given up on signing Japanese ace Yu Darvish.

According to MLB Insider Jon Heyman, the Twins have remained in contact with this winter's top free-agent starter Darvish.

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Darvish, 31, has been linked to the Twins since well before the Winter Meetings, and he has a connection with general manager Thad Levine from his days with the Rangers, where Darvish spent his first four-plus seasons.

Levine helped recruit and sign Darvish as an international free agent in 2012 from Japan.

However, per Heyman, the Twins don't view a meeting with Darvish as an immediate necessity. The crafty right-hander, who went 10-12 with a 3.86 ERA last year, is expected to land a significant multiyear contract in the $20 million to $25 million range -- a commitment the mid-market Twins may have trouble completing.

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Minnesota rode a promising young rotation to the second American League Wild Card last year and is reportedly looking to upgrade this unit to supplement a raw yet blossoming lineup.

Darvish had meetings last month with the Cubs and Astros, as well as dinner with Texas GM Jon Daniels, though that was mostly viewed as a social encounter -- each of which said went well.

The Japanese starter has also been linked to the Dodgers, whom he was traded to last summer, and the Yankees, though both clubs are attempting to get under the $197 million luxury tax threshold in 2018.

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Last Friday, Heyman reported the Yankees would seriously consider signing Darvish if the price is right. New York, meanwhile, has been previously linked to some of the front-end starters on the trade market since signing veteran CC Sabathia on a one-year deal to return in 2018.

Those reported trade targets have included the Pirates' Gerrit Cole, the Rays' Chris Archer and the Tigers' Michael Fulmer. The Yankees also have been looking at free agent Alex Cobb, per Heyman, as well as possibly some additional free agents.

But Darvish would be the highest-profile acquisition of the bunch, if the Yankees could swing it.

It might be tough to pay Darvish and still squeeze under the luxury tax after their other moves this offseason. But maybe it can be done -- teams seem to be trying to wait out Darvish for his price to drop, Heyman pointed out, and if the Yankees could move salary in a trade, namely Jacoby Ellsbury's (although he has a full no-trade clause), that would also help.

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