MESA, Ariz. -- At the end of last season, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein acknowledged his team needed more pitching. He even said he was willing to move some of the Cubs' young position players to get it. Losing both Jacob Arrieta and John Lackey to free agency
MESA, Ariz. -- At the end of last season, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein acknowledged his team needed more pitching. He even said he was willing to move some of the Cubs' young position players to get it. Losing both Jacob Arrieta and John Lackey to free agency created gaping holes in the rotation, with no immediate help available in the system.
Instead, the Cubs were able to hang onto their talented core. The team's pitchers and catchers will hold their first workout on Wednesday. Assuming Yu Darvish passes his physical, he is expected to join the group -- after agreeing to a six-year, $126 million contract. There were no players on the field Sunday at the Cubs' complex, so no sign of Darvish yet.
"I told him if he comes here, we're going to win a World Series, hopefully," said catcher Chris Gimenez, who caught Darvish with the Rangers and is a non-roster invitee.
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Gimenez may have earned a roster spot with his recruiting efforts.
Darvish, 31, would join starters Jonathan Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana and Tyler Chatwood, giving the Cubs plenty of firepower to defend the National League Central and try to reach the postseason for a fourth straight year.
"He's a top-of-the-rotation guy, he's an ace -- and we have one in Jon Lester already, which is pretty awesome," Gimenez said. "Not too many [teams] are fortunate to have one or two aces."
It's definitely a nice belated birthday present for Cubs manager Joe Maddon, who turned 64 on Thursday.
Darvish is coming off of a 10-12 season with the Rangers and Dodgers, which included a victory in the NL Championship Series over the Cubs on Oct. 17. He held Chicago to one run -- a Kyle Schwarber homer -- in Los Angeles' 6-1 win in Game 3.
But the right-hander struggled in the World Series against the Astros, and was able to retire 10 of the 22 batters he faced in two starts. Last season was Darvish's first full campaign after undergoing Tommy John surgery in March 2015, and he had not pitched more than 150 innings since '13.
"Everything that comes out of his hand looks exactly the same," new Cubs pitching coach Jim Hickey told MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM on Sunday. "They're not similar pitchers, but he reminds me a lot of what Greg Maddux used to do. Every single ball that came out of Greg's hand looked the same -- whether it had a little bit of a rise to it or a little bit of a sink or a bigger break. That's what struck me about Darvish ... that everything is well disguised and the stuff obviously is very, very good, as well."
Darvish has only pitched two games in his career at Wrigley Field -- including the playoff game -- and owns a 2.57 ERA in seven career starts against NL Central teams.
A four-time All-Star, Darvish has a career 3.42 ERA in 131 starts, and averages 11.04 strikeouts per nine innings.