CHICAGO, Ill — According to reports, the Cubs have agreed to sign one of the top free agents of the offseason, starting pitcher Yu Darvish, for around $124 million over six years, according to Ken Rosenthal.
The four-time All-Star is undoubtedly a front-line starter, pitching to a career 3.30 FIP and .219 BAA over six seasons, including a 2013 season in which he led the American League in strikeouts, finished second in Cy Young voting, and even got a few votes for MVP.
Many knew that the Cubs would pursue starting pitching this winter, but it was widely assumed that Darvish was out of their price range, as he was expected to command a 6-plus year deal worth more than the team was willing to spend.
His price tag plummeted, however (be it a lack of interest, scares from his World Series performance, or concerns over his Tommy John surgery in 2015), intriguing the Cubs, and prompting them to open discussions with Darvish earlier this week. The signing seems to be a steal, as quite a few teams may have been unwilling to spend this offseason in anticipation of a huge free agent class next year.
The Japanese righty has spent the vast majority of his career in Texas with the Rangers, but was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers this past July.
He helped LA win the National League (including a start against the Cubs in the NLCS — 6.1 IP, 6 H, 1 ER), but was tattooed by the Houston Astros in the World Series, and reports later surfaced that he was unintentionally tipping pitches. While his past performance is undoubtedly impressive, this, if legitimate, is an issue that must be solved by new Cubs pitching coach Jim Hickey.
Darvish will undoubtedly replace Arrieta as yet another ace in this already powerful starting rotation, and you can expect him to start quite a few playoff games. By signing him, the Cubs are clearly establishing themselves as powerhouses in the National League, and will easily be competing for another World Championship in 2018.