Yu Darvish is the most proven arm on the market this offseason, and is likely going to make more money than anyone this winter. Pitching is a clear need for the Cubs, with Jake Arrieta and John Lackey leaving this offseason.
But with the addition of Jose Quintana to a rotation that already features Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks, it was thought by most that the Cubs will be looking for 4th and 5th starters.
However, Travis Sawchik from Fangraphs believes Darvish is key ingredient to a Cubs rotation that has the meat and potatoes but lacks flavor.
— Travis Sawchik (@Travis_Sawchik) November 8, 2017
Clearly, adding Yu Darvish to any rotation in baseball is going to drastically improve that team’s pitching. However, Sawchik makes a compelling case for the Cubs, saying if the team wants to compete they need Darvish.
“Chicago is tasked with keeping up with the sport’s other super teams, to remain competitive with the Dodgers and Nationals and Diamondbacks in what appears to be a very unbalanced National League. Darvish is the only obvious candidate to fill that void at the moment.”
Looking over the numbers, Sawchik is right, the Cubs are currently projected as the 12th best staff in baseball for 2018. While not terrible, Sawchik points out five National League teams projected higher than the Cubs.
The Dodgers, Nationals, Cardinals, Diamondbacks, and Rockies all have better rated pitching staffs than the Cubs currently boast. And while Lester, Hendricks, and Quintana are a solid trio, adding a player like Alex Cobb or Tyler Chatwood this offseason doesn’t move the needle much.
Outside of the Cubs swinging a trade with a team like Tampa Bay for Chris Archer or winning the Shohei Otani lottery, the Cubs only chance of competing with those projected staffs would be adding Yu Darvish.
Show me the money!
Now, much was made this past July of Darvish’s no trade clause which included the Cubs on that list. And while many counted the Cubs out due to that trade clause, it was never made clear whether or not he would accept a trade to Chicago.
However, the Cubs were one of the initial teams that made an offer to Darvish when he left Japan for the MLB in 2012. And every team that ended up losing out on Darvish was included on that no trade list. So, don’t read too much into that.
Darvish will likely sign with the team that offers him the most money, and the Cubs can offer a hefty contract – but do they want to? According to Spotrac, Darvish’s market value is somewhere around $21.5 mil, and over a five-year deal, is likely to get offers north of $100 million this offseason.
I don’t buy it
The Cubs like Darvish, and adding the talented 31-year-old is tantalizing, I just don’t see this front office making this deal. Darvish is right in his prime, and despite his poor performance in Game 7 of the World Series, would be the undisputed ace of the Cubs staff.
But signing Darvish is a long term deal could cut into their ability to sign players like Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo in the future. Plus, with Darvish’s injury history, signing him in general is a risk in itself.
There is no disputing Darvish is the top free agent this offseason, but I’m not sure he is at the top of the Cubs wish list for 2018. The Cubs will be in the hunt for Darvish’s services, but expect them to avoid the massive payday this offseason and save for 2019.