Why the Padres should explore a Yu Darvish extension this offseason
All eyes will be on the San Diego Padres to see how they upgrade their lineup and navigate a cascade of free agent predicaments. Fernando Tatis Jr. might be viewed as his own signing after he missed all of 2022, but shouldn’t more attention be paid to Yu Darvish and the starting rotation and bullpen?
After all, it was pitching that spearheaded the Padres playoff run, and the rotation and bullpen have burning question marks as we head into the offseason.
In terms of free agents, Nick Martinez, Mike Clevinger, Robert Suarez, Sean Manaea and Craig Stammen are all set to hit the open market. Addressing the bullpen should be near the top of A.J. Preller’s priority list this winter.
What about the starting rotation, though?
While San Diego’s big three of Darvish, Blake Snell and Joe Musgrove will all be back in 2023 (barring a trade), Musgrove is the only hurler signed through the 2024 season. While Musgrove boasts a 3.05 ERA in two seasons with the Padres, he’s not someone you want headlining your rotation.
With that in mind, it would behoove Preller and company to sit Darvish down and hammer out an extension over the next few months.
The Padres should consider extending Yu Darvish this offseason.
The Padres took care of Musgrove during the regular season. No harm in taking care of Darvish during the offseason. While Darvish is getting up there in age (he turned 36 in August), he just turned in one of the best seasons of his career and hasn’t showed anything to suggest he’s close to hitting a wall.
San Diego could really use some security in their rotation and extending Darvish would mean he and Musgrove are signed through 2024. While the efficiency isn’t always there, Darvish is horse and the exact profile you want leading a rotation. Thirty starts in back-to-back season is nothing to sneeze at and has done a lot to alleviate the injury concerns that plagued Darvish before he arrived in San Diego.
In fact, only 10 pitchers logged more than 194.2 innings this season, and it marked the second-highest total of Darvish’s 10-year career. We’re not saying Preller should hand the five-time All-Star a blank check, but a one- or two-year deal that’ll span the remainder of his prime years doesn’t seem like a tall ask.
The Padres exceeded the luxury tax threshold in 2021 and 2022, but they have ample money coming off the books both this offseason and after the 2023 season, which is when a Darvish extension would begin since he’s signed through next year.
The rotation will need to be addressed at some point, but that doesn’t need to be before 2024 if Darvish is extended this offseason. At 36 years old and with a career 3.50 ERA, he’s not going to command a king’s ransom.
Anyone see a potential downside?