Cubs Rumors: Yu Darvish Won't Opt out of Contract, Avoids Free Agency

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistOctober 31, 2019

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Yu Darvish delivers during a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

The Chicago Cubs no longer have to worry that Yu Darvish will explore the free-agent market after the four-time All-Star declined to use his opt-out clause. 

Per MLB Network's Jon Heyman, Darvish will remain with the Cubs.

When the Cubs signed Darvish to a six-year, $126 million deal in February 2018, it came with an opt-out after the second season that would allow him to explore free agency for the second time in his career.

There were legitimate reasons to assume the Japanese star might walk away and try to secure a new long-term deal. He finished 2019 on a high note with a 2.76 ERA, 0.81 WHIP and 118 strikeouts in 81.2 innings after the All-Star break.

This is also a weak offseason for free-agent pitchers, as Gerrit Cole is the only bonafide ace on the market. Stephen Strasburg, who was named MVP of the World Series, could join that list if he opts out of his deal with the Washington Nationals.

Despite those factors, Darvish may not have wanted to go through the free-agent process again after waiting until the start of spring training two years ago to get a deal done. He's also 33 years old and made just eight starts in 2018 because of elbow and triceps injuries.

There were indications Darvish would remain with the Cubs long before he declined to use his opt-out clause, though he did leave the door cracked in case something changed.

"I haven't decided yet," Darvish told MLB.com's Jordan Bastian in September. "I have to talk to my family and agent, too. My kids and my wife love Chicago, especially the kids. They only care about the Cubbies. So, I don't think [I will opt out]. ... This organization is perfect for me."

Chicago needs Darvish back if it hopes to get back to the postseason coming off a disappointing 2019. Free agent Cole Hamels may not return; Jon Lester had a 4.46 ERA in 31 starts last season; Jose Quintana's 4.68 ERA in 2019 was the highest of his eight-year MLB career.

Darvish looked like an ace down the stretch last season and has the ability to shut down any lineup on a given day. His decision to remain with the Cubs gives the team a great start on the offseason as it looks to reclaim the NL Central in 2020.

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