This winter has been one of the slowest in recent memory as it is almost February and the five best free agents are still available, like Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, J.D. Martinez, Eric Hosmer, and many more.
As of the last few weeks the stove has gotten warmer and warmer around Japanese ace Darvish, with teams like the Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees, Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers and even the Houston Astros are in the mix and it appears signing time is getting closer and closer.
According to Jon Morosi of MLB.com, Darvish is almost ready to sign his new contract and is expected to pick a team this week.
The Chicago Cubs were the latest team to be mentioned to having active talks with free agent Yu Darvish, hoping to add the right-hander to their rotation as they try for a second championship in three seasons.
The 31-year-old Darvish is one of the top players available in a slow-moving market this winter. He finished last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, helping them reach the World Series.
The conversations came as the Cubs agreed to a minor league deal with Chris Gimenez, who regularly caught Darvish while they were in Texas and developed a trusted working relationship with the Japanese pitcher.
Darvish began a successful transition from Japan to the majors in 2012, going 16-9 with a 3.90 ERA in 29 starts for the Rangers. He was traded to Los Angeles in July and went 4-3 with a 3.44 ERA in nine starts with the Dodgers down the stretch.
Darvish shut down the Cubs in Game 3 of the NL Championship Series, striking out seven while pitching 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball in a 6-1 victory at Wrigley Field. But he was hit hard in the World Series against Houston, managing just five outs in each of his two starts, and there was talk he was tipping his pitches.
The addition of Darvish would be a big boost for Chicago, which has made it to the NLCS in each of the past three years, winning the World Series in 2016. The Cubs also have looked at bringing back pitcher Jake Arrieta, who is a free agent after a successful run in the Windy City, but Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana are back from last year’s club and Tyler Chatwood joined the rotation in December with a $38 million, three-year contract.
The other team to get involved recently was the Brewers, who out of nowhere made a contract offer to the right-hander.
On paper, the sides are a fit, even though Milwaukee is the smallest market of Darvish's potential suitors. Stearns made clear from the start of the offseason that starting pitching was his top priority, and that the Brewers have payroll flexibility even after adding Jhoulys Chacin on a two-year deal and Yovani Gallardo on an incentive-rich one-year flier via free agency.
The Brewers also have some need, with top starter Jimmy Nelson at the very beginning of a throwing program following surgery in September for a right shoulder injury. At the moment, Chase Anderson, Zach Davies and Chacin appear good bets for the Opening Day rotation, with left-hander Brent Suter and right-handers Gallardo, Junior Guerra, Brandon Woodruff and Aaron Wilkerson among the other candidates while Nelson finishes his comeback.
The Brewers have also been linked to the other top starting pitchers on this year's free-agent market, including Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn. All remain unsigned.