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The Twins and Yu Darvish haven’t met in person yet, and that’s okay

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It’s perfectly reasonable to believe the Twins are still in the running to sign the free agent ace.

Texas Rangers v Minnesota Twins
Yu can take your time.
Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

In case you didn’t notice, the Twins haven’t signed Yu Darvish yet. Though the front office declared the right-handed starter a priority early in the offseason, talks between the two sides haven’t seemed to progress. The Cubs and the Astros have both already met with Darvish face-to-face, but the Twins are reportedly still trying to “match schedules” to set up their own meeting. In other words, they just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

If that sounds a little funky to you, you’re not alone. Marc Normandin from SB Nation’s main MLB site wrote about the peculiarity of it yesterday, concluding in part:

What we have going on here is one of three things. Maybe Darvish has no real interest in joining the Twins at all, so he’s giving them the “new phone, who dis?” treatment every time the Twins try to get in touch with him. Or, all this collusion talk — legalized or no — is legitimate, and the Twins haven’t met with their top target and one of the best free agents on the market yet because that wouldn’t be playing well with the other owners, now would it? The last option? The Twins are super incompetent.

I’ll admit — it’s probably not the best sign that the Twins haven’t had their chance to wine and dine their biggest offseason target yet. Any three of the scenarios Marc posited could be true (though I have doubts about the last two). At the end of the day, maybe Darvish really doesn’t have any intention of signing with Minnesota.

However, I also don’t think those three options are the only possible scenarios explaining what is going on with the Twins and Yu Darvish. Perhaps — and stay with me here — perhaps... the Twins and Darvish just haven’t had a good time to meet yet? You know, like the reports have said?

I know it sounds ridiculous, especially in light of the offseason being so slow and the Twins reiterating over and over how serious they are about signing Darvish. I mean, if they’re really that serious, wouldn’t they just clear their schedules and have had this dang meeting by now?

There’s two things I think we should keep in mind here. First, it’s not just the Twins who need to clear their schedule, but also Darvish. This is a two-way street. Second, Derek Falvey, Thad Levine, and co., and also Yu Darvish, are still... people? People with families and lives and obligations outside of meeting with one particular free agent or one particular baseball team?

Let’s just look at what Darvish has been up to this offseason. Practically no MLB free agents signed before December’s Winter Meetings, so it’s not weird Darvish didn’t sign before then. Then the Winter Meetings came, and nothing much happened there either. A couple days after the meetings concluded, Darvish met with the Cubs in Chicago, had dinner with Rangers GM Jon Daniels in Texas (reportedly just as friends), then met with the Astros a few days later. After all that, it was pretty much time for the holidays. I guess technically the Twins and Darvish could have cleared their schedules and had a face-to-face meeting on Christmas Eve or something, but seriously? While not impossible, it doesn’t sound like the most feasible or conducive time to get everyone together.

In case you were wondering, Darvish plans to stay in the United States and not return to Japan at all this offseason. He’s been working out at his home in Texas with former Dodgers teammate Clayton Kershaw (!!!).

In past years, Darvish has returned to Japan in the offseason, and when he did, he mentored and worked out with 23-year-old Shintaro Fujinami, a pitcher for the NPB’s Hanshin Tigers. This year, Darvish invited Fujinami to come to the US and work out with him and Kershaw here instead.

According to Nikkan Sports, Fujinami is planning to come over in early January — so, basically, right about now. He’s not just coming for a couple workouts with Darvish and Kershaw, either — reportedly, he’s looking to learn more from Darvish about nutrition, home cooking, and other conditioning aspects outside of simply throwing a baseball. I can’t tell for certain, but he may even be staying at Darvish’s house, and, in any case, in the states for as long as three weeks.

Now, does this mean Darvish is going to be doing nothing else in that time? Of course not, but clearly he has more going on in his life than just sitting by the telephone with his agent drumming his fingers. Darvish has a schedule of activities, just as I’m sure the people in the Twins front office do, and they just need to find a time that fits well for everyone.

Or maybe even not! As you probably know, Thad Levine and Yu Darvish are already close — as assistant GM for the Rangers, Levine was a huge part of the negotiations that originally brought Yu Darvish to the states. The two are already well acquainted, apparently to the point where Levine doesn’t feel rushed to have an in-person meeting, or maybe even have one at all.

I’m not Thad Levine or Yu Darvish, so obviously I don’t know what is actually happening. It’s possible Darvish has no intention of signing with the Twins, or that the owners are colluding, or that the Twins are just incompetent — but are those really the only possible explanations for why the Twins haven’t signed or met with Darvish yet?

Maybe Levine and Darvish are comfortable enough with each other they don’t feel the need to push a meeting ASAP. After all, an unnamed Twins official (maybe even Levine himself) said in late December that they didn’t expect Darvish to sign for another month. Maybe Levine is being accommodating, and the two sides are just waiting for the most conducive time to meet? After all, that is the actual reason for a lack of a meeting that’s being reported.

Just saying: don’t count the Twins out just yet.