By Tim Baffoe–
(670 The Score) Curse you, 2017-’18 baseball offseason.
With every passing day of calm waters and no wind to blow our sails as we float stranded in the middle of an ocean of ultraboring, you make us lose a little more of our sanity. Did commissioner Rob Manfred forget to pay the gas bill for the Hot Stove? Can I continue to come up with more bad jokes about that metaphor? Clearly, the lack of activity among MLB general managers has a ripple effect that stretches even to my charm and wit.
The latest fever dream while we all seem to be suffering from some sort of actual flu is that the Chicago Cubs must be the favorites for free-agent right-hander Yu Darvish because … well … because they signed catcher Chris Gimenez. See, Gimenez caught Darvish in 12 games for the Texas Rangers. Thus, our news-starved brains are reading between the lines here and making the clear conspiratorial connection that a 35-year-old catcher is the stepping stone to Darvish eventuality on the North Side. But, hey, Gimenez is even provoking us.
Gimenez joked last month about telling Darvish, the Japanese pitching star, they needed to be a “package deal” on the free-agent market. Darvish, who has posted a 3.29 earned run average in 12 career starts with Gimenez catching, had spoken multiple times around Thanksgiving with Gimenez about the Twins as a potential landing spot.
“I would still be happy for him and the Twins if they landed him,” Gimenez said. ‘But I wouldn’t be mad if he wanted to go to the Cubs either.”
So now Darvish has to sign with the Cubs or Gimenez will spend 2018 being known as the backup or Triple-A catcher who didn’t bring a star pitcher with him. This is what the offseason has come to, people. This is the stench of desperation when even an obvious contender like the Cubs has fans personifying the Charlie from Always Sunny meme where all our friggin’ rumors keep getting mailed back to us and nothing is even real anymore.
But Darvish did have a 3.29 ERA in those Gimenez games, which makes it all so tempting to believe. It’s not as if the Cubs signing Darvish is a pipe dream. The Cubs are having active talks with Darvish, Jay Cohen of the Associated Press reported Monday night. The Milwaukee Brewers have actually made him an offer, though, and the Twins, Yankees, and Rangers are supposedly still working on him, too.
Maybe it’s not being unable to tell the difference between DayQuil and NyQuil anymore, but the Cubs still just feel like the team that makes the most sense in the Darvish sweepstakes. Because president of baseball operations Theo Epstein wants another starting pitcher.
“We’ve brought in a lot of pitching this winter, and that was the plan,” Epstein said on the Spiegel and Parkins Show on 670 The Score last week. “We’re lucky enough to be in a pretty solid place with our position player group. We knew we were losing some pitching. You’d rather stock up on it in the winter and not have to trade prospects midseason if possible. We knew it was going to be a bit of a challenging marketplace for us, but honestly, we’re really happy with the way things have gone so far. We’d love to add another starting pitcher if it’s possible, but we feel like we certainly could break camp with what we have now. We don’t quite have the depth that we’re looking for if we do that, so we’re going to keep working on it.”
That’s as “Give me another damn stud in the rotation” as you’re gonna get out of Theo. And his available money situation is reportedly right for it.
It’s more a matter of when – not if – the Cubs will make a significant addition to a team that has advanced to the National League Championship Series three years in a row. Even in accounting for benefits, adding the cost of roster churn and setting aside money for the trade deadline, sources with an understanding of the team’s financial picture say the Cubs can spend roughly $30 to $35 million more this offseason and still stay comfortably beneath this year’s $197 million luxury-tax threshold.
So from Epstein’s unease with the current rotation to the team’s solid luxury tax situation to the new catcher who’s old enough to have had a slow dance at prom to the very popular new song “Thank You” by Dido and to who talked to Darvish around Thanksgiving about being a package deal which was mentioned in Cubs fan Hillary’s emails to Russia in which the Cubs unsuccessfully attempted to deport Ronnie Woo Woo…
It all makes too much sense. Or maybe that’s exactly what the puppeteers of this frigid Siberian baseball offseason want us to think.
Tim Baffoe is a columnist for 670TheScore.com. Follow Tim on Twitter @TimBaffoe. The views expressed on this page are those of the author, not Entercom or our affiliated radio stations.