Published: Sun, February 11, 2018
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

MLB Free Agency: Chicago Cubs sign Yu Darvish

MLB Free Agency: Chicago Cubs sign Yu Darvish

The agreement is pending a physical examination. A pitcher with a 3.70 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and a 28.8 percent K rate since his March 2015 Tommy John surgery, Darvish shouldn't have much trouble repeating the ratios, perhaps shaving a quarter-run off his ERA and finishing with a K rate right around 30 percent, meaning a good 200 strikeouts if he stays healthy again. The next few names on that list are Clayton Kershaw, Chris Sale, Stephen Strasburg, Corey Kluber, Chris Archer and Madison Bumgarner.

Additionally, signing Darvish keeps him away from the Dodgers, who were reportedly the runner-up for his services, and the Brewers, an NL Central rival who were also pursuing the right-hander. The Dodgers are among the large-market teams endeavoring to keep their payrolls under the luxury-tax threshold.

Even before the Cubs landed big-ticket starter Yu Darvish in the final days before spring training, players and staff boasted about their chances to win their third consecutive division title and reach the playoffs for the fourth straight year.

Darvish turns 32 this season, not an ideal age to sign a six-year deal, and one imagines the Cubs had to give him an extra year or two on the deal to break the impasse and get him signed. Darvish did not fare well in the World Series as he never lasted more than two innings. While Darvish's new deal doesn't officially close the door on a return from Jake Arrieta, it certainly makes it less likely.

Six years ago, the Rangers paid more than $110 million to acquire Darvish - $60 million in salary and the rest to Darvish's team in Japan, the Nippon Ham Fighters, for whom Darvish pitched seven seasons and established himself as the best pitcher in the Pacific League. He went 4-3 in nine starts with a 3.44 ERA (49.2 IP/19 ER) and 61 strikeouts after the trade.

If pitchers like Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb were going to cost $20 million per season (the market probably won't yield that kind of deal for them now), the Cubs figured it was worth paying just a bit more to get Darvish. Ohtani signed with the Angels in the second week of December.

Darvish has a long track record of throwing high-quality innings, with several years as a bonafide frontline starter on his resume.

The question to me still is, if he came down to $19 million a year for four years, if you're the Chicago Cubs, isn't he then a value at $21 million a year for four years? Other teams reportedly in the bidding for Darvish included the Yankees, Rangers (with whom Darvish spent most of his Major League Baseball career), Twins, and Astros (who likely bowed out after acquiring Gerrit Cole).

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