The Quick Hitter: Signing Yu would turn Twins from pretender to contender
Fast forward to September 2018.
The Minnesota Twins find themselves in the hunt for the second American League wild card spot once again, no thanks to Miguel Sano, who's been suspended for a portion of the season for accusations he assaulted a photographer. In the weeks ahead, as the Twins battle the Mariners and Angels for the final AL playoff spot, one man puts them over the edge.
That man is Yu.
That's right, the same guy who posted a 21.60 ERA in the Los Angeles Dodgers' World Series loss to the Houston Astros.
The Twins, as reported by Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN in the Twin Cities, submitted a formal offer to rope in the former Texas Rangers and Dodgers star. Problem is, the Twins don't sign free agents of Yu Darvish's caliber — ever.
But to take the next step, the Twins need to go hard after Darvish.
Despite his World Series woes, the Twins won't overcome megastar Mike Trout and the Angels or any other contender come September without a major pitching addition like Darvish.
If you're into projections, the Steamer projection system says Darvish would be the best pitcher on the Twins staff in 2018. According to Fangraphs, he'd also be the best player on the Twins.
And the pitching problem magnified with staff ace Ervin Santana falling victim to injury this week.
The major hurdle, however, is money.
The Twins' tiny Minnesota market — relative Darvish's former homes in Dallas and Los Angeles —is a high hurdle that has previously been unsurmountable.
Darvish is going to command $110 million, at least. There's a chance Darvish rakes in a total contract valuation higher than the two largest Twins free agents contracts ever doled out combined — $55 million for Santana and $49 million for Ricky Nolasco.
But to overcome their opponents who have found their own ways to improve this offseason, the Twins need to make a major move. Probably even two or three.
Let's go ahead to September again, this time without Darvish. The Twins are in the middle of the pack, they've traded the expiring contract of second baseman Brian Dozier and the team's only household name Joe Mauer is about to call it a career with his hometown team.
One move could be make-or-break for the Twins. Darvish could be the difference that gets the team through the days without injured Santana and suspended Sano. He could help them steal a win when the young core of talented hitters is slumping.
What the Twins must answer is the ultimate question for a small market team: How much is winning really worth?