Yu Darvish is officially a member of the Cubs. Darvish and the club completed a six-year deal on Tuesday, the club announced.The deal guarantees the right-hander $126 million, two sources told MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi and Carrie Muskat. The Cubs did not confirm terms of the deal.Darvish's $126 million contract
Yu Darvish is officially a member of the Cubs. Darvish and the club completed a six-year deal on Tuesday, the club announced.
The deal guarantees the right-hander $126 million, two sources told MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi and Carrie Muskat. The Cubs did not confirm terms of the deal.
Darvish's $126 million contract is the largest free-agent deal so far this offseason. Sources told MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal that the contract includes incentives that could push its total value to $150 million, though Darvish would have to win multiple Cy Young Awards to reach that figure. The contract includes an opt-out clause and no-trade protection, ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reported.
The 31-year-old Darvish was the marquee starting pitcher on the free-agent market and received another $100 million offer for six years from the Dodgers, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman. The Twins and Brewers were also linked to Darvish this winter. According to Rosenthal, the Yankees didn't make an offer on Darvish. As much as they liked him, New York's position echoed the Dodgers' concerns in staying under the luxury-tax threshold.
Catcher Chris Gimenez, who signed a Minor League deal with the Cubs in January, is excited to work with Darvish again. The batterymates were Rangers teammates in 2014-15, and in '14, Gimenez caught the right-hander 12 times. When Gimenez signed with Chicago, many believed the club made the move as part of its recruitment of Darvish. And the catcher and pitcher were in contact, although Gimenez had downplayed his role as a lure.
"I told him if he comes here, we're going to win a World Series, hopefully," Gimenez said. "I said, 'I'll throw in half my salary. But if we win, you have to give it back double.'"
Willson Contreras, the Cubs' starting catcher, also expressed his excitement about the deal while channeling Harry Caray on Twitter.
Darvish gives the Cubs a frontline starter to replace Jacob Arrieta, who also became a free agent this offseason, as they seek a third straight National League Central title and fourth straight postseason appearance in 2018. Chicago's formidable rotation now projects to include Darvish, Jonathan Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana and another free-agent acquisition, Tyler Chatwood.
It marked the second time in 6 1/2 months that the Cubs acquired a top starting pitcher who was also linked to the rival Brewers. At last July's non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Brewers were deep into negotiations with the White Sox for Quintana before the Cubs landed the left-hander with a package of top prospects.
Darvish has some of the most electric stuff in baseball. He was an All-Star for the fourth time in 2017, with a 3.86 ERA and 209 strikeouts in 31 starts for the Rangers and Dodgers. After his trade to Los Angeles, he helped the Dodgers reach the World Series, although he struggled in two starts in the Fall Classic against Houston.
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Darvish had an uneven 2017 season, posting a career-low 10.1 K/9 rate (it was 11.3 from '12-16) with his highest ERA since his '12 rookie campaign. But on a positive note, the right-hander reached the 30-start plateau for the first time in four years and delivered a spectacular 209-to-58 K/BB ratio over 186 2/3 innings. Having joined a Cubs club that has won at least 92 games in each of the past three seasons, the 31-year-old should be regarded as a borderline mixed-league ace. With the potential to provide roughly 15 victories, a 3.50 ERA and 225 whiffs, Darvish can be tabbed in the fourth round of standard-league drafts.
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.