Chicago Cubs: Breaking down the best contracts on the team

Yu Darvish, Chicago Cubs(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Yu Darvish, Chicago Cubs(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
Yu Darvish, Chicago Cubs (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: Yu Darvish – six years, $126 million

At the time of the contract, the Yu Darvish signing was something many, including Cubs fans, scoffed at, due to the nature of the average annual value. Initially projected by MLB Trade Rumors at six years, $160 million, the Cubs captured Darvish on a smaller amount of money.

Hindsight is always 20/20, and, while the emboldened veteran did mightily struggle in his first year in Wrigleyville, Darvish bounced back last season in a significant way. In 2018, Darvish started just eight games before an elbow injury prematurely ended his season.

Last year, Darvish made 31 starts which nearly tied his career-high. He finished north of a 4.00 ERA, posting a 3.98 while improving upon his xFIP, dropping it down from 4.24 the season before to 3.39 in 2019. From July 3 on, Darvish was lights out. Like nearly untouchable. Over 88 1/3 innings, Darvish pitched to a 2.95 ERA. An almost video game-like K-BB% of 34.4 percent also moved him over the hump from okay to outstanding.

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Darvish made $20 million last season and is slated on the payroll this year for $22 million. Comparable to this year’s free-agent class of starting pitchers, Darvish’s contract is micro in comparison. Gerrit Cole signed a $324,000,000 deal with the New York Yankees, which pays him $36 million per year. Stephen Strasburg re-upped with the Washington Nationals on a $245 million extension. Zack Wheeler joined the Philadelphia Phillies on a $118 million deal.

The overarching point of all three contracts is giving way to retrospection and the unbelievable near steal that Chicago got going all-in on Darvish. Let’s hope it all comes full circle by the end of the contract and that Darvish does, in fact, live up to the money.