Yu Darvish, Cubs finalize $126 million, 6-year contract

Yu Darvish, Cubs finalize $126 million, 6-year contract

"He's been a great pitcher in this game for a while". Jon Lester signed a six-year, $155-million deal in December 2014, the Quintana trade highlighted last summer and Tyler Chatwood signed a three-year, $38-million deal in December with the Cubs banking on his prospects away from hitter-friendly Coors Field.

The six-year, $126 million deal that comes with an extra $24 million in incentives grants Darvish a second year player opt-out, but in the first year of his new contract Darvish makes the Cubs again the top dogs in baseball's senior circuit.

With all pitchers and catchers required to report to spring training within the next few days, only a handful of free agents have a realistic chance of getting a contract that compares to Darvish's. And that is clearly not good.

"Without that meeting, we probably don't end up here with Yu joining the Cubs", said Epstein. And all credit to Theo and the boys for doing what needed doing to build a staff with that sort of potential.

The Mets say they were sold on Callaway as a first-time manager largely by his high-energy personality and leadership qualities, but let's be real: they took a gamble that the Indians' former pitching coach can be a horse whisperer of sorts to their once-ballyhooed starting rotation. Making free agents your core?

Darvish also boasted a 27 percent strikeout rate and 7.6 percent walk rate last season, and the latter is especially appealing for a Cubs team that had the seventh-highest walk rate in the league in 2017. They re-signed and signed lefties Brian Duensing and Dario Alvarez to try to ensure they could take advantage of the maximum number of match-ups. They then developed in the Cubs system but still clearly don't count as drafted-and-developed talents.

In the mind of ex-MLB general manager Jim Duquette, one ideal fit is out there: The Philadelphia Phillies. Garza, Dempster, Jeff Samardzija (Addison Russell) and Andrew Cashner (Anthony Rizzo) all brought great returns. Pay no attention to the small sample size gremlins of a best-of-seven series (which further may have been the result of some easily-fixable pitch-tipping) though, because Darvish has been one of the best pitchers in baseball since he came to MLB from Japan in 2012. He has a career 56-42 record with a 3.42 ERA in 131 major league games.

Want a guy in the system to root for?

The Cubs were spoiled for two years with the consistency of leadoff man Dexter Fowler in 2015 and 2016.

Heyward also spent a lot of preseason time a year ago with since-fired hitting coach John Mallee.

Hickey was Maddon's pitching coach while Maddon managed the Tampa Bay Rays and I fully expect him to help with the bullpen woes the Cubs suffered from last season.

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