I had to use a pun in the title, there really is no other way to get the point across to Yu guys. Okay, okay I am done. I promise.
The first domino of free agency has fallen. On a snowy Saturday afternoon in Chicago, Theo Epstein had Cubs fan dreaming of another World Series run. Yu Darvish has agreed to suit up for the boys on the North Side. The Cubs came to an agreement of 6 years, $126 million with the potential earnings as high as $150 million. The Cubs were looking to willing to offer to Darvish $25 million a year so I would chalk this signing up as a win. I have many thoughts on all of this so I will try to keep this as organized as possible.
Theo played his hand early on in these negotiations. Chris Gimenez, Darvish’s personal catcher, signed with the Cubs in late January. I am not saying this signing convinced Darvish to sign with the Cubs but it sure as hell did not hurt.
Rumors are that the Dodgers were right around the same ballpark in terms of money but Darvish decided to sign with the Cubs. This says A LOT about the culture Theo Epstein and Joe Maddon have created in Chicago. The storied losing franchise has all but washed away that narrative. This move makes them the odds on favorite to reach the World Series once again.
In Darvish, they are receiving the most coveted pitcher in free agency. Yu Darvish could arguably be a #1 pitcher on most teams when healthy. Key words in that sentence are when healthy. Yu Darvish has averaged 11 strikeouts per game over his career. This is the highest ratio for pitchers with 100 starts ranking just ahead of Randy Johnson and Chris Sale. Not too shabby of company if you ask me. Oh yea, he can also confidently throw 7 different pitches for strikes.
Let’s touch on this notion that Darvish is bad in the postseason. Yes, he had two BAD starts in the World Series last year. Previous to those stats, Darvish was 2-2 and gave up 2 runs or less in 3 of those 4 starts. He had a few bad starts but he has also had an equal amount of quality starts in the postseason. In my opinion, the jury is still out on Darvish’s postseason prowess.
This move helps the Cubs in more ways than one. While it turns their rotation into one of the greatest in the MLB, it also solidifies their bullpen. Mike Montgomery now can focus on providing bullpen assistance as well as spot starts when needed.
Let’s take a quick gander at the Chicago Cubs starting rotation:
LOL funny playoff rotation. Let’s see what kind of offensive lineup the Cubs will toss out there:
Javy Baez/Ben Zobrist
LOL funny as well, I love you Theo Epstein.
The one thing that I love about this signing is the Theo Epstein is capitalizing on his window. He knows the potential of this team at this current moment and he is going out to sign the best possible free agent. As a fan, you love a GM that goes out and signs a massive free agent after making the NLCS three years in a row. He could have let off the gas after winning the World Series two years ago. Theo Epstein continues to make this team better year in and year out. The rival Cardinals made a big move by bringing on Marcell Ozuna. The Brewers shored up their outfield by signing Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain. The NL Central rivals put the heat on Theo Epstein and he delivered in the biggest way possible. Taking a top tier pitcher and an elite bullpen arm from the team you have faced in the NLCS the previous two years doesn’t hurt either.
I know I am biased as I am as big a Chicago Cubs homer as it gets. I shoot it straight when it comes to these teams. On paper, this team can win another World Series. That rotation if all healthy will be close to unstoppable if they are all on. The bullpen will hopefully bounce back from an extremely inconsistent season. The offense will most likely have its continued growing pains but there is no reason to think it will not improve with another year under it’s belt.
Oh and every single one of those pitchers are under contract until 2021 or later. Let’s see how the cornerstone catcher of this franchise feels about this deal…
This is an absolute great time to be a Cubs fan, a great time indeed.