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MLB Trade Rumors: Rangers' Yu Darvish could be available if team falters

The Japanese ace will become a free agent after the season.

Gatorade All-Star Workout Day Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Rangers could make starting pitcher Yu Darvish available in trade talks this month if the team continues to slide out of contention, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. Though the club intends to be buyers at this year's deadline, they've lost three straight games and now sit 3.5 games behind the Yankees in the second Wild Card spot.

Darvish, 30, is owed close to $5 million for the rest of the season and will hit the free agent market at the conclusion of the 2017 season. The right-hander is 6-8 with a 3.45 ERA in 125.1 innings this year, though his 9.4 K/9 is a step down from his career-average 11.0 K/9 mark. Darvish would join a light starting pitching market headlined by Athletics right-hander Sonny Gray.

Among teams known to be pursuing starting pitching are the Yankees, Brewers, Royals, and Rockies, though Darvish's lack of team control may limit his market. Yankees GM Brian Cashman has expressed his desire to hold onto prospects close to the majors, and Darvish's price tag could make a good fit for New York in the wake of Michael Pineda's season-ending surgery.

If GM Jon Daniels and the Rangers do follow through on a deadline sell-off, Darvish could be joined by fellow 2018 free agents Carlos Gomez, Andrew Cashner or Jonathan Lucroy. However, Heyman notes that Texas has no desire to deal starter Cole Hamels this summer, who is owed $22.5 million in 2018 with a $20 million club option for 2019.

Signed out of Japan in 2012 by the Rangers on a six-year deal, Darvish has been selected to four All-Star games in his five seasons on the mound in Texas. The Rangers' ace is scheduled to make his next start Friday in Tampa Bay.