The Cubs' rotation, already stacked up fairly well for the coming year, is now unquestionably one of the best in baseball, as Darvish joins fellow acquisition Tyler Chatwood in joining a strong group that includes Jon Lester, Jose Quintana, and Kyle Hendricks. The agreement is pending a physical examination. And it looks like the best in the NL Central.
The deal with Darvish comes after the Cubs agreed to a minor league contract with Chris Gimenez, who regularly caught Darvish while they were in Texas and developed a trusted working relationship with the pitcher. Los Angeles is committed to staying under the luxury tax threshold this year.
In three months with the Dodgers, and at the club's urging, Darvish attempted to adjust his mechanics and slightly alter his approach.
One of the biggest differences for that group might be the mindset this spring after experiencing post-championship fatigue, a slow start to the season and a second-round playoff elimination past year. There is still some wiggle room before they hit that mark but it seems more likely that they will save that space for any moves they might make throughout the season.
The much-anticipated free agent pitcher made it known that he was looking for at least six years and over $100 million.
The right-hander made 31 starts a year ago between the Rangers and Dodgers, pitching to a 3.86 ERA with a near-identical 3.83 FIP.
If pitchers like Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb were going to cost $20 million per season (the market probably won't yield that kind of deal for them now), the Cubs figured it was worth paying just a bit more to get Darvish. His nine runs in 3⅓ innings in two World Series starts resulted in a 21.60 ERA and the two shortest starts of his career, as he failed to make it out of the second inning in both games, including Game 7.
Darvish has a long track record of throwing high-quality innings, with several years as a bonafide frontline starter on his resume. Late in the 2017 season he was very good, compiling an ERA of 1.69 with close to 40 more strikeouts than walks in his 11 starts between July and August.
David Price (seven years, $217 million with the Boston Red Sox), Kershaw (seven years, $215 million with the Dodgers), Scherzer (seven years, $210 million with the Washington Nationals) and Zack Greinke (six years, $206.5 million with the Arizona Diamondbacks) are the highest-paid pitchers. Two years removed from a title, the Cubs obviously fit into that category and addressed a significant need by adding Darvish to their rotation.