Sports

Darvish lands 6-year, $126 million deal with Cubs

Darvish lands 6-year, $126 million deal with Cubs

The deal includes an opt-out clause and no-trade protection along with escalators that could push the deal to $150 million.

In 31 combined starts last season, Darvish was 10-12 with a 3.86 ERA.

The Cubs also sprinkled some hints at a possible Darvish signing when they brought in Chris Gimenez on a minor league deal.

With Darvish in the mix, the Cubs rotation now consists of Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana and Tyler Chatwood. In 2016, they won their first World Series crown since 1908.

Cubs sources disputed earlier reports they were close to a deal, noting that while communication lines were open after their meeting, no progress had been made toward a conclusion.

More news: Qualcomm to meet Broadcom to demand more after the revised bid

There may be a thaw in the free-agent freeze. During his career, he has 1,021 strikeouts in 832 1/3 innings.

Several other teams had been in pursuit of Darvish - including the Dodgers, Brewers and Minnesota Twins - and those teams could quickly pivot to the other top starters on the market, including Jake Arrieta (whom Darvish essentially replaces atop the Cubs' rotation), Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb.

Darvish was outstanding over the final two months of the regular season with the Dodgers, posting a 3.44 ERA and 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings.

The Cubs didn't need to get a whole lot better to be the consensus favorites in the NL Central, but that's exactly what happened. Both the Dodgers and Yankees may have moved on Darvish sooner had those clubs not been concerned with exceeding the luxury tax threshold for this season.

Whether the Cubs and team president Theo Epstein admit this or not, the team probably wasn't expecting to sign a free agent of Darvish's caliber - and price tag - going into the offseason. Montgomery will likely also be utilized as a spot starter throughout the season, as he was a year ago when he made 14 starts for the Cubs. Darvish finished second in the American League Cy Young voting in 2013, one of two seasons in which he made more than 30 starts. Some believe that Darvish signing will free up the logjam of other free agents - but that's no certainty, since there really are only a handful of free agents that approach his value.


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