Yu Darvish, Cubs Agree on 6-Year Contract Reportedly Worth $126 Million

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured Columnist

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Yu Darvish throws to a San Francisco Giants batter during the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

After playing for two different teams in 2017, Yu Darvish ended his long offseason wait to find a home Saturday when he signed with the Chicago Cubs.

The Cubs announced Tuesday that they had agreed to a six-year contract with Darvish after Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic first reported the deal on Feb. 10.

Rosenthal noted the contract is worth roughly $126 million with a chance to get up to $150 million through incentives, pending a physical. Rosenthal added the chances of his making the full $150 million are "quite slim," as he would have to win "multiple Cy Young Awards."

Darvish ended last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers after they acquired him from the Texas Rangers on July 31. The four-time All-Star finished with a 3.86 ERA with 209 strikeouts and 159 hits allowed in 186.2 innings. 

Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reported the Dodgers "were said to have offered in the same ballpark" as the Cubs, but Darvish chose to go to Chicago.

After missing all of 2015 and the first two months of 2016 due to Tommy John surgery, Darvish has shown no ill effects from the procedure. His average fastball velocity of 94.2 mph in 2017 was the best of his MLB career, per FanGraphs.

However, Darvish comes with more risk beyond having his right elbow surgically repaired. His 27 home runs allowed and 1.3 home runs per nine innings were the worst of his career. 

With more home runs being hit than ever, a homer-prone starting pitcher won't age well. He still posts high strikeout totals, though, which give him the ability to dominate on any given night. 

At 31 years old, Darvish no longer looks like the ace he was when at his best in 2013 when he finished second in AL Cy Young voting. He's still an excellent starting pitcher to build a rotation around and will immediately make the Cubs more dangerous as they chase a World Series title in 2018 and beyond. 

The Cubs needed to bolster their starting pitching for 2018 with Jake Arrieta and John Lackey in free agency. Signing Tyler Chatwood earlier this offseason gave them their replacement for Lackey at the back of the rotation. 

Darvish will make a fine replacement for Arrieta near the top. He's pitched in high-pressure situations with the Dodgers and Rangers throughout his career.

Even though the 2017 World Series was a low point for the right-hander, he was excellent in his first two playoff starts against the Arizona Diamondbacks and Cubs with 14 strikeouts, one walk and eight hits allowed in 11.1 innings. 

With their moves this offseason, the Cubs feature Darvish, Jose Quintana, Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Chatwood in the rotation. It's a formidable group that will make it easy for the franchise to expect a fourth straight playoff appearance next season.

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