Posted on February 10, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
One of the biggest dominoes in the stagnant free agent market has finally fallen. Multiple sources are reporting that Yu Darvish has agreed to sign with the Chicago Cubs. The deal is reportedly worth $126 million over six seasons. However, with the incentives in the contract, Darvish can make as much as $150 million as he calls the north side of Chicago home through the 2023 season. With Darvish off the board, it could help wake up the rest of the free agent market with spring training just days away.
While it took a while for Darvish to sign, the Cubs were among the favorites for her services throughout the offseason. There were reports that Darvish wanted to return to the Dodgers after being traded to Los Angeles last summer. However, the Dodgers are hoping to stay under the luxury tax threshold in 2018 and couldn’t clear enough money in order to afford Darvish. The Brewers, Twins, Rangers, and Yankees also had serious interest in Darvish.
Of course, the last time we saw Darvish he had one of the worst outings of his career in Game 7 of the World Series. In two World Series starts for the Dodgers, Darvish gave up eight earned runs over 3.2 innings. But those two outings did not appear to scare away the Cubs or any other team. In 31 starts between the Rangers and Dodgers in 2017, Darvish was 10-12 with a 3.86 ERA. Considering it was his first full season back from Tommy John surgery, those numbers signal that the 31-year old Darvish has recovered well from the surgery and has plenty of good years left.
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The Cubs were always likely to add a top-flight starter this offseason. They are set to lose both Jake Arrieta and John Lackey in free agency. Despite Arrieta being regarded as one of the top starters available alongside Darvish, Chicago appeared to have little interest in a reunion. That may have made the Cubs a little more determined to sign Darvish than his other suitors.
Darvish will now pitch at the top of Chicago’s rotation alongside Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester, and Jose Quintana. That quartet gives the Cubs one of the best rotations in baseball. Chicago’s rotation struggled at times last year, perhaps a result of fatigue after winning the World Series in 2016. If Lester, in particular, can bounce back after a mediocre 2017, Chicago’s rotation should be in great shape.
The Cubs also appear to have considerable depth in their rotation. Earlier this offseason, the Cubs signed Tyler Chatwood, who figures to be the team’s no. 5 starter. Eddie Butler and Mike Montgomery provide further depth, as well as possible options in the bullpen. The Cubs also signed Drew Smyly, who could be an option the second half of the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery last July.
The Cubs were always going to be favorites to win the NL Central in 2018, as well as serious contenders to reach the World Series. But the signing of Darvish will make them all the more formidable this season. Darvish gives the Cubs another ace, ensuring they have one of the best rotations in baseball and setting them up to make another serious World Series run in 2018.