The free agency offseason market is getting smaller by the day and the MLB 2018 season is quickly approaching. Pitchers and catchers will report in just a few days, February 14, and it is time to start thinking about America’s Pastime. Teams have been active finding players to fill their spring training rosters and no signing over the past month has been bigger than the Chicago Cubs signing starting pitcher Yu Darvish.
The Cubbies signed Darvish to a 6 year, $126 million dollar contract, which could inflate to around $150 million dollars with incentives. In order for those incentives to kick in, Darvish would need to win “multiple” Cy Young awards among other restrictions. The agreement contains a no-trade clause and an opt-out clause, which makes it a very player friendly contract.
Darvish was one of the most eagerly anticipated signings of the off-season, where many teams were trying to lure the starter to their team. Just a few teams that had showed interest in Darvish outside of the Chicago Cubs were the Milwaukee Brewers, Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, Minnesota Twins and the Houston Astros. Many experts close to the situation felt that Darvish was holding out with the hopes of re-signing the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Darvish is a legitimate threat on the mound each and every night but is he worth a contract over $100 million? He is averaging over 11 strikeouts per 9 innings over his career, which happens to be the highest ratio in MLB history for pitchers with more than 100 starts. That’s a pretty strong stat considering in 2nd place is a tie between Randy Johnson and Chris Sale.
The question must still be asked is the Darvish worth this humongous contract! If we take a look at last year, we find that Darvish had a losing record of 10-12 with a 3.86 ERA. He was to games under .500 but the most eye-opening part of that statement is that both teams that he played for, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Texas Rangers, both had top 10 offenses at the plate.
The Rangers were 3rd in the league in home runs, 9th in the league in runs scored and were 15th in the league in slugging percentage. The Dodgers were 11th in the league in home runs, 12 in RBIs and 8th in the league in slugging percentage.
The Dodgers ended up going to the World Series, where Darvish recorded just 4 outs in the game 7 loss to the Houston Astros. He became only the 2nd picture in World Series history with less than 2 innings pitched in both of his starts.
Darvish will without a doubt help the Cubs stay in the hunt for the NLCS for a 4th consecutive year and was a move that had to be made with Jake Arrieta moving on in free agency and John Lackey retiring.
The reality of the signing will either be boom or bust for the Cubs. Darvish will most likely fall into the 2nd spot in the starting rotation behind John Lester and in front of Kyle Hendricks, José Quintana and Tyler Chatfield, who they also picked up in the off-season.
Chatwood was signed back in December to a three-year, $38 million contract. The 28-year-old right-handed pitcher take up the 5th starter spot for the Cubs. Chatwood appeared in 33 games last year for the Colorado Rockies and is simply happy to no longer have to face opposition at Coors Field. Chatwood went 8-15 with a 4.69 ERA last year for the Rockies but the bulk of his struggles came while he was pitching in Denver. Chatwood was just 3-8 with a 6.01 ERA at Coors Field last year. Chatwood should adjust very nicely to pitching at Wrigley Field.
Darvish was considered the #1 free agent this year on the market however many teams placed a question mark over his head due to his postseason struggles. Darvish has a 56-42 career record with a 3.42 ERA. He has started 131 games, has pitched in 832.1 innings and has 1021 strikeouts. Those are fairly decent numbers for the regular season but what about when we look at his postseason records and statistics? Darvish has appeared in 6 postseason games dating back to 2012. In those 6 games, he is 2-4 with 25 strikeouts and a 5.81 ERA.
What good as a starting pitcher if they choke and can’t win in the big game in the postseason? I guess we will just have to wait and see how this all ends up for a Chicago Cubs and Yu Darvish but one thing is for sure, if he chokes in Chicago at Wrigley Field the Cubbies fans will not hold back in expressing their displeasure with a large signing!!!