As the offseason draws nearer and nearer to a close, the top-ranked free agent pitcher in the 2017-18 free agent class has just been taken off the market. Star right-handed starting pitcher Yu Darvish signed a 6-year, $126 Million deal with the Chicago Cubs on Saturday. The deal is pending a physical and could be worth up to $150 Million in incentives.
Yu Darvish came into this offseason as one of the most highly sought after and controversial free agents after putting up good numbers in the regular season, pitching phenomenally in the NLDS and NLCS, but saw his stock drop after pitching two of the worst games of his career during the 2017 World Series. While two bad outings are typically nothing to worry about, many MLB teams became weary of signing him and it has taken an entire offseason to get a contract signed for Darvish.
The Japanese right-hander put up a 10-12 win-loss record in 2017 with 209 strikeouts, a 3.86 ERA, 1.163 WHIP, 118 ERA+ (100 is league average), and a 3.8 WAR in 31 starts. The 4-time All-Star started 22 games with the Texas Rangers, going 6-9, and started 9 games with the Los Angeles Dodgers, going 4-3.
Darvish received a substantial offer from the Milwaukee Brewers last month, but the deal obviously was not enticing enough for Darvish to bite. Yu Darvish was reportedly also linked to the Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, Minnesota Twins, and the Houston Astros before ultimately signing with Chicago.
Darvish will now join a star-studded starting rotation that is projected to consist of Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana, Tyler Chatwood, and obviously, Yu Darvish.
Interestingly, according to ESPN Stats & Information, Darvish has a career 2.42 ERA in eight career starts against NL Central opponents (including the postseason). Darvish has also never allowed more than 3-runs against an NL Central opponent. If this carries over in 2018, the Cubs are going to have a good time dismembering their division rivals every 5th day.
The Milwaukee Brewers have made a statement this offseason by signing Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain and will be attempting to overthrow the Cubs for the NL Central. Signing Yu Darvish has just skyrocketed the Cubs chances at repeating as division winners, and the Brewers are going to have to get busy this offseason in order to stay competitive in the inevitable 2-Horse Race that the NL Central will be in 2018.
Yu Darvish will be paid $21 Million per year for the next six-years to put on a Cubs uniform, and if Darvish continues to pitch like he has against the NL Central while putting his World Series fallacies behind him, the Cubs are going to be exhilarated that they made this deal.
The Chicago Cubs have just put themselves back into the World Series conversation for 2018, how do you think that the Cubs will perform? Division title? Pennant? World Series victory? Or will the Brewers (or someone else) pull off a miraculous upset?