While the Chicago Cubs have addressed some of their pitching needs this offseason, the front office hasn’t made a big splash yet. Tyler Chatwood, Brandon Morrow and Steve Cishek were all solid acquisitions, but the Cubs still have one more spot in the starting rotation to fill and it certainly appears as though their pursuit of the top free agent is heating up.
A few days ago, Bruce Levine reported that the Cubs were kicking the tires on free agent starting pitcher Yu Darvish.
Something to keep your eye on . Cubs in on numerous pitchers and are kicking the tires on Yu Darvish now .
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) December 16, 2017
On Monday, Levine reported that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer flew to Dallas and that their likely plan was to meet with Darvish.
Cubs Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer landed in Dallas this afternoon. Free agent Yu Darvish meeting is likely destination for the two execs.
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) December 18, 2017
Less than an hour later, Jon Heyman confirmed Levine’s report, saying the Cubs are meeting with Darvish.
sources: cubs are indeed meeting with yu. they have cast a wide net on free-agent/trade markets for a top starting pitcher. cobb, lynn, arrieta, duffy, archer among other possibilities. https://t.co/enuahpAKTm
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 18, 2017
Darvish, 31, along with Cubs free agent Jake Arrieta, are seen as the top pitchers in this year’s free agent class. However, if reports are true that Arrieta is seeking a deal worth $200 million, then you can assume the Cubs will say good luck and move on elsewhere in the market. There’s also the report that Alex Cobb’s asking price has so far lowered the Cubs interest in him. So, these factors seemingly have led the Cubs to upping their interest in Darvish.
Before you lose your mind and think the Cubs are going to give Darvish some outlandish deal, remember that the front office will do everything it can to remain in the mix for next year’s free agent class. So, ideally their contract offer to Darvish would make sure that the team doesn’t go over the luxury tax threshold for the 2018 season. Because you know, the Cubs are going to try and sign Bryce Harper.
You can have the debate on who the better pitcher is, Darvish or Arrieta, but right now the focus is Darvish, so in my perfect world the Cubs do sign him, but only to a four-year deal. Obviously, Darvish is going to try and get as much money and security as he can, but if the Cubs go up to $110 million or even $120 million over the four years, that amount of money could be enough to entice the right-hander to sign with the Cubs.
Plus, we’re almost at Christmas, maybe Darvish is getting a little desperate, as interest in him hasn’t really been high so far this offseason. But again, the ideal contract structure would guarantee that the Cubs stay under the luxury tax for 2018, making the final three years of Darvish’s deal enormous. The other main reason a four-year deal would be perfect is because the contract would expire at the time the Cubs core hits free agency. So, by that time Darvish’s and Jon Lester’s money would be off the books.
So, what do you guys think, $110 million over four years for Darvish? For reference, before the start of free agency, MLB Trade Rumors projected Darvish signing with the Cubs on a six-year contract, worth $160 million. My proposed deal would be $27.5 million on average per season.
How would you feel about the #Cubs giving Yu Darvish a 4-year deal worth $110 million?
— Aldo Soto (@AldoSoto21) December 18, 2017
Or maybe even four years at $120 million?
Darvish missed the entire 2015 season after having Tommy John Surgery. He came back to make 17 starts in 2016 and made 31 in 2017 with the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Dodgers. He has a career 3.42 ERA and 1.18 WHIP, starting his career in 2012.
Will his next start be as a member of the Cubs?