Chicago Cubs sign Yu Darvish to six-year, $126 million contract

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs put the finishing touch on their offseason Saturday, reportedly agreeing to terms on a six-year, $126 million contract with free agent Yu Darvish.

After months of waiting, it finally happened. According to Ken Rosenthal, the Chicago Cubs have put a big exclamation point on their starting rotation, signing right-hander Yu Darvish to a six-year, $126 million deal.

Darvish, 31, split last season between the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Dodgers – getting his first taste of World Series action with the latter. He dominated the Cubs in the NLCS, pitching into the seventh and allowing just one run in his lone start in the series. The addition rounds out a Chicago rotation in need of a big-time arm.

With the departure of former Cub Jake Arrieta, the Cubs projected to enter 2018 with Mike Montgomery in the starting five. Granted, with virtually every big-name starting pitcher still on the market, that was unlikely to come to fruition, but a Darvish signing immediately boosts the Cubs’ chances of returning to the NLCS for a fourth-straight year.

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The right-hander made 31 starts last year between the Rangers and Dodgers, pitching to a 3.86 ERA with a near-identical 3.83 FIP. Following the deadline trade to Los Angeles, Darvish went 4-3 with a 3.44 ERA down the stretch, averaging north of 11 strikeouts per nine.

Cubs built for the long haul

He’ll likely slot into the Cubs rotation either as the team’s ace or their number two. Really, it depends on how Kyle Hendricks pitches this spring. Regardless of how you order them, a staff including Hendricks, Darvish, Jon Lester, Jose Quintana and Tyler Chatwood ranks among the best in the National League.

The deal could approach $150 million with incentives, but, according to Rosenthal, Darvish would need to win multiple Cy Young Awards to hit that mark. As much as I love him, I don’t see that happening. Not with the likes of Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw vying for the honors.

But it gets better. Bear with me.

Jon Heyman is reporting that the Dodgers offered Darvish a deal in the same range, but he chose to come to Chicago. Theo Epstein has turned the Cubs into one of – if not the – prime free agent destination during his tenure. Of course, for Los Angeles to make that happen and stay under the luxury tax, they would have to make several payroll-cutting moves.

Next: Maddon ready to build a dynasty in Chicago

With the addition of Darvish, at least in my mind, Chicago is once again the team to beat in the National League. With a core including perennial MVP candidates in Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, along with Willson Contreras, Kyle Schwarber and Javier Baez – along with  a rotation under long-term control, the Cubs are set to win not just in 2018 – but for years to come.

Expect plenty more from us on this signing as the weekend progresses.