Chicago Cubs: Did last winter cost the team a chance at success?

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: Did the team miss with Yu Darvish?

After the 2017 season, Jake Arrieta and John Lackey hit free agency. Arrieta wanted a lot of money and more years than the Cubs were comfortable giving him. John Lackey appeared to be at the end of a long career.

A lot of experts thought that Alex Cobb would reunite with his old manager and pitching coach in Joe Maddon and Jim Hickey. Reportedly, the Cubs made an early offer which Cobb was willing to accept until his agent jumped in. Cobb ended up signing with the Baltimore Orioles and was part of their terrible season.

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Due to the strange offseason, Darvish did not get an early big money offer. As the Cubs waited out the free agent market his price began to approach reasonable levels for them. Reportedly there was a last phone call to Arrieta before the Cubs signed Darvish.

Should the Cubs have re-signed the 2015 NL Cy Young winner instead? Well, Arrieta had last year’s strange offseason impact his eventual contract, too. His deal pays him a lot of money, but it has all kinds of options and opt-outs. Arrieta’s crossfire delivery invites control issues. The results of Arrieta’s last two seasons seem to suggest that his Cy Young days are behind him.

However, the right-hander was healthy for the whole 2018 season. The Cubs know Arrieta is a fitness enthusiast without any history of arm injuries. The same can not be said of Darvish. He has already had Tommy John surgery once and was on the disabled list twice this season. The Japanese right-hander only made eight starts for the Cubs in 2018.

It is difficult to predict who will age better: Darvish or Arrieta. Arrieta might be wild, but will Darvish be healthy? It is also difficult to see which one might end up costing their team during the rest of their careers. Will either one of them will pitch well enough that they will want to opt out of their current contracts?