Yu Darvish is trading in sunshine for wind, as he becomes the rare free agent to sign a lucrative deal (or any deal) this off-season. After splitting last season between the Rangers and Dodgers, he leaves California for the Chicago Cubs, with whom he will make $126 million over 6 seasons.
The deal for the highly-coveted free agent might be sweeter still; his contract includes escalators that could make his total contract value up to $150 million. His deal is the Cubs’ fourth time giving a free agent a contract worth upwards of $100 million; the only team who’ve given more is the Yankees, with six.
This news comes in right at the tail-end of the off-season. Most teams have pitchers and catchers reporting on Wednesday, though many free agents are still without teams. Both the Yankees and Dodgers declined to sign Darvish, whose contract would’ve entailed either club having to pay the luxury tax. Interestingly, Darvish is the 7th free-agent pitcher the Cubs have signed this winter, though no other pitcher will make more than Tyler Chatwood’s $38 million or be with the club for longer than three years; Darvish is the big get. This off-season has been all about revamping their pitching. Aside from not re-signing outfielder Jon Jay, the Cubs have not made any changes to the rest of their team.
Although the four-time All-Star struggled with the Dodgers in the postseason, Darvish has some of the strongest career stats in the Majors. He has a career record of 56-42, 1,021 strikeouts, and a 3.42 ERA. He averages 11 K’s per nine innings, the highest ratio in MLB history for any pitcher with more than 100 career starts.
Yu Darvish will join a rotation that includes fellow newcomer Chatwood, Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester, and Jose Quintana. Darvish is a strong addition to an already-strong team; he posted a 3.86 ERA and went 10-12 in 31 combined starts last season. The Cubs have reached the National League Championship Series for the past three seasons, and are serious contenders to do so again this year. The baseball world will look to Darvish to see if he can make a better postseason contribution in 2018.
*Image: The Athletic