Published: Sun, February 11, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Cubs land Yu Darvish on six-year deal

Cubs land Yu Darvish on six-year deal

The agreement is pending a physical examination.

Kershaw recently said he'd spoken only vaguely with Darvish about potential destinations. Los Angeles is committed to staying under the luxury tax threshold this year.

So Ricketts gave the green light and Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer got their man after traveling to Dallas in December for a three-hour meeting with Darvish that obviously made an impression. We don't talk about what offers he's gotten or anything like that.

The Cubs didn't need to get a whole lot better to be the consensus favorites in the NL Central, but that's exactly what happened. Since undergoing surgery, Darvish has a record of 17-17, with a 3.64 ERA, in 287 innings pitched, and 341 strikeouts in 48 starts. His 2017 season showed a slight decline from seasons past, both in Texas and then, after a mid-summer trade, in Los Angeles. For one things, Darvish was famously awful in the World Series a year ago, and his two bad performances - whether they were because of a slider-proof baseball or because he was tipping his offspeed pitches - probably cost the Dodgers a World Series title.

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In three months with the Dodgers, and at the club's urging, Darvish attempted to adjust his mechanics and slightly alter his approach. At this point, he was 39-25 (83 starts) with a 3.27 ERA, two complete games, one shutout, and 680 strikeouts.

Darvish finished last season with the Dodgers, helping them knock out the Cubs in the playoffs to reach the World Series. It is by far the biggest contract signed among this year's free agents, and comes in $29 million less than Lester's six-year contract signed prior to the 2015 season. Still, Darvish probably deserved a little more, and he fell short of the predictions that both Jon Heyman and a baseball insider made at the start of the offseason. 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.

Several other teams had been in pursuit of Darvish - including the Dodgers, Brewers and Minnesota Twins - and those teams could quickly pivot to the other top starters on the market, including Jake Arrieta (whom Darvish essentially replaces atop the Cubs' rotation), Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb. Among major league pitchers with at least 180 innings, he ranked 14th in ERA, ninth in WHIP, eighth in strikeouts per nine and 12th in strikeouts per walk.

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