11 February, 2018
The deal includes an opt-out clause and no-trade protection along with escalators that could push the deal to $150 million.
The much-anticipated free agent pitcher made it known that he was looking for at least six years and over $100 million. He began past year with Texas and was traded to Los Angeles in July, going a combined 10-12 with a 3.86 ERA.
The Cubs had been considered the clear favorite for Darvish, despite a late start on courting him. Since 2012, only one pitcher has throwns 800 innings with a better strikeout rate than Darvish's 29.7%, and his name is Max Scherzer. This is likely a correctable issue moving forward and the Cubs probably agree given they handed Darvish this deal.
There may be a thaw in the free-agent freeze. Darvish started 164 games, was 93-38, had an ERA of 1.99, threw 55 complete games (18 shutouts), pitched 1268.1 innings, and had 1,250 strikeouts. Darvish's 11.04 K/9 rate is the second highest mark among qualified starting pitchers in Major League Baseball history. Texas, Milwaukee, Minnesota and the New York Yankees also reportedly expressed some level of interest, but Chicago's approach paid off with the agreement just days before the start of spring training.
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Darvish went 4-3 with a 3.44 ERA in nine starts with the Dodgers down the stretch. The Dodgers are among the large-market teams endeavoring to keep their payrolls under the luxury-tax threshold. What may be a concern, however, is the fact that Darvish has thrown 2,127 2/3 innings in his professional career, has a Tommy John surgery on his resume and will be with the Cubs in his age 31-36 seasons.
Darvish is coming off a 10-win season split between the Rangers and Dodgers, who he helped reach the World Series. Montgomery will likely also be utilized as a spot starter throughout the season, as he was past year when he made 14 starts for the Cubs.
At 31 years old, Darvish no longer looks like the ace he was at his best in 2013 when he finished second in AL Cy Young voting. The former two showed only tepid interest due to their commitment to staying under the fake salary cap, and the latter two are likely going to focus on the remaining free agent starters - Arrieta, Lance Lynn, and Alex Cobb.