The Chicago Cubs and Yu Darvish, who have been a connection all offseason, agreed to a six-year-deal on Saturday. According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Darvish will make $126 million with the chance to make $150 million through incentives.
Darvish will solidify a Cubs rotation that was in need of one more frontline arm. After Jake Arrieta and John Lackey left via free agency, the Cubs had to fill two rotation spots, one of which was filled by Tyler Chatwood earlier this offseason. With Darvish on board, the Cubs will roll out a rotation of Darvish, Jon Lester, Jose Quintana, Kyle Hendricks and Tyler Chatwood.
Darvish has a long track record of throwing high-quality innings, with several years as a bonafide frontline starter on his resume. Since he debuted in 2012 as a 24-year-old, Darvish has thrown 832 1/3 innings with a 3.42 ERA and 19.0 fWAR. Darvish’s 11.04 K/9 rate is the second highest mark among qualified starting pitchers in MLB history. With a legitimate five-pitch-mix and improved command in recent years, Darvish has grown into an extremely good MLB starter.
It’s worth noting that Darvish had a very poor showing in the 2017 World Series for the Los Angeles Dodgers, thanks in part to tipping his pitches. This is likely a correctable issue moving forward and the Cubs probably agree given they handed Darvish this deal. What may be a concern, however, is the fact that Darvish has thrown 2,127 2/3 innings in his professional career, has a Tommy John surgery on his resume and will be with the Cubs in his age 31-36 seasons.
Even with some red flags, Darvish is a huge addition for a team that will compete for another World Series in 2018. Fangraphs Steamer Projections have Darvish posting 3.6 WAR and a 3.82 ERA in 179 innings this season. That type of production is exactly that the Cubs were seeking and the Cubs managed to acquire that production without giving out a draft pick or trading from their plethora of position players (Ian Happ, Addison Russell, Javier Baez).