The San Diego Padres will wrap up their National League Wild Card Series against the New York Mets on Sunday night with a decisive Game 3. The stakes are high, albeit straightforward: if the Padres win, they'll advance to meet the Los Angeles Dodgers, in a best-of-five Division Series; if they lose, they'll head back to San Diego and begin their offseason with little to show for their efforts.
The Padres would surely like to win and try their hand against the Dodgers, but that hasn't prevented them from building a to-do list for this winter. Indeed, the Padres would reportedly "like to discuss an extension with" right-handed starter Yu Darvish, according to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Darvish, 36 years old, is under contract for one more season at the cost of $18 million. Though he struggled to close out last year, blemishing his first season with the Padres, he showed no signs of decay in 30 starts this go around. Rather, he amassed a 3.10 ERA (121 ERA+) and a 5.32 strikeout-to-walk ratio over the course of 194 innings, his highest total since the 2013 campaign, or his second in the majors.
It's unclear if Darvish would have interest in remaining in San Diego, or how long of a term the Padres would seek to hand someone who is under their employment through his age-37 birthday. Nevertheless, you can understand why the Padres might seek to extend another member of their rotation this far out, even if it seems risky on paper because of his age: the Padres could use the cost certainty.
Remember, the Padres will have significant coin invested in just a handful of players come 2024: Manny Machado ($30 million), Joe Musgrove ($20 million), Fernando Tatis Jr. ($11.7 million) are guaranteed more than $60 million, and that doesn't include Juan Soto's likely massive arbitration prize in his final year of eligibility. It's possible the Padres have $90 million (or thereabout) invested in four players.
Signing Darvish to a new deal this offseason could backfire if his performance slips, but it could also save the Padres money if his financial ask is lower than it would be once he neared the open market. With that in mind, there's no harm in at least broaching the topic with Darvish this offseason and seeing if there's a deal to be done.