Arguably the biggest fish in the starting pitching market has finally found a home for 2018 and beyond, with Yu Darvish coming to terms with the Chicago Cubs for a reported six-year, $126 million deal, first reported by Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
Darvish’s deal is just the second free agent contract this offseason with more than three guaranteed years, along with Lorenzo Cain‘s five-year, $80 million pact with the Brewers.
The 31-year-old right-hander was 10-12 with a 3.86 ERA in 31 starts in 2018, with 209 strikeouts in 186 innings. He was 4-3 with a 3.44 ERA in nine regular season starts after the Dodgers acquired him from the Rangers at the trade deadline. Darvish won his first two postseason starts with Los Angeles, allowing two total runs, before imploding in the World Series, giving up nine runs while recording only 10 outs.
With the Dodgers already at an estimated $181 million for competitive balance tax purposes before in-season additions and performance bonuses are factored in, it was always unlikely they would have been able to retain Darvish and stay under the $197 million CBT threshold for 2018.
“There would be some hurdles for us to add any significant contracts at this point,” Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi said on Jan. 27.
It turns out the Dodgers were still in the running to retain Darvish, but fell short of the Cubs’ bid, with also includes an opt-out, a no-trade clause and escalators that could take the deal to roughly $150 million.
source suggests that while dodgers were willing to go to six years, they weren't all that close to to the $126M winning bid— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 10, 2018
As it stands now the Dodgers head into Tuesday’s spring reporting day for pitchers and catchers with a starting rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Alex Wood, Kenta Maeda and Hyun-jin Ryu. That quintet produced a 3.25 ERA in 126 starts in 2017.
“If you’re going to poke holes I guess in our club, the starting pitching depth we’ve had in year’s past we probably don’t have that right now,” manager Dave Roberts told MLB Network Radio on Feb. 1.
Not that 2018 will play out exactly like 2017, but those 126 starts still leaves 36 starts for the rest of the staff. Currently next on the starting depth chart are, in some order, Walker Buehler, Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, with Julio Urias recovering from surgery and possibly available after the All-Star break or so.
“As we all know you can never have enough starting pitching,” Roberts said at Fan Fest. “We’ll take the necessary steps to stretch them out early and build them up and see how spring training plays out.”