The Chicago Cubs have reportedly agreed to a six-year, $126 million contract with free-agent starter Yu Darvish. The deal includes incentives that can boost the total value to $150 million. Darvish, 31, split last season between the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Dodgers, working his way to a 118 ERA+ and 3.60 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Though his stock slipped with a pair of bad performances in the World Series, he nonetheless managed to make his fourth career All-Star Game appearance. For his career, he has a career 126 ERA+ in 832 innings.
Darvish is known for his deep arsenal, led by a mid-90s fastball and a slider. He also throws a sinker, a curveball, a cutter, a splitter/changeup,and — in the past, anyway — an even slower curveball. Darvish has the highest strikeout rate (11.04 per nine) in major-league history among starting pitchers with more than 800 innings — Randy Johnson and Chris Sale check in at second and third. With John Lackey likely headed for retirement and Jake Arrieta hitting free agency, the Cubs entered the offseason needing to fill two rotation spots. It was always possible that Mike Montgomery would be an internal option, but he’s probably a better fit as the swingman, being the injury-fill-in starter and long reliever. Tyler Chatwood was signed early in the offseason to a three-year, $38 million to fill one of the spots. Darvish takes the other.
The Cubs now have four starters (Darvish along with Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana) who have performed as frontline pitchers recently along with Chatwood in the rotation and Montgomery as a quality fallback option. The fallout here includes Arrieta, Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn. We know the Brewersand Twins were in on Darvish, so their sights could be shifted to at least one of those three names. The Phillies are another team that could get involved on any of the three. For a while, it seemed like the Darvish market was a holdup for Cobb and Lynn, so perhaps there’s some trickle down and those two sign somewhere relatively soon. Pitchers and catchers report to spring training this week, so the timing is right. For now, the Cubs get a win here, both in bolstering their rotation but also in keeping Darvish from the Brewers.
The Pirates have released a statement in response to reports that catcher Elias Diaz’s mother has been kidnapped in Venezuela. The alleged kidnapping was first reported by Venezuelan journalist Mari Montes. Kidnapping has long been a problem for Venezuelan baseball players, who often have to spend extra resources protecting themselves and their families when they are in the country. Rays catcher Wilson Ramos was himself kidnapped in the country in 2011, and in 2009 family members of former Rockies catcher Yorvit Torrealba and former Rays pitcher Victor Zambrano were kidnapped in Venezeula.