Major League Baseball free agent rumors: Cubs, Yu Darvish agree to six-year deal

MLB pitcher Jake Arrieta

Aside from what his arrival means for the Cubs, Darvish's contract - which reportedly contains an opt-out, a no-trade provision and escalators that could bring the total value to $150 million - also eases, at least for now, the sense of foreboding hanging over Major League Baseball with camps set to open next week. His performance at the end of last season likely contributed to those icy waters, so two years of strong performance would help, too. Granted, with virtually every big-name starting pitcher still on the market, that was unlikely to come to fruition, but a Darvish signing immediately boosts the Cubs' chances of returning to the NLCS for a fourth-straight year. Gimenez would regularly catch for Darvish in Texas.

But it could certainly be true that the only teams in the market for expensive free-agent talent are those intending to compete for World Series championships.

In the past three months Darvish had been rumored to be negotiating with more than a half-dozen teams, among them the Cubs, Houston Astros, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Yankees, Texas Rangers, Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Dodgers. Those first two rounds, it was smooth sailing for him and the Dodgers. He allowed four earned runs in 1.2 innings in each start.

After a 103-win 2016 season that culminated in a World Series title, the Cubs won 11 fewer games previous year and lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL Championship Series, but will enter 2018 with a projected rotation of Darvish, Jon Lester, Jose Quintana, Kyle Hendricks and Tyler Chatwood, which will rank among the best in the league. He hopes to get back to that stage to show the world he is better than his 21.60 World Series ERA. The next few names on that list are Clayton Kershaw, Chris Sale, Stephen Strasburg, Corey Kluber, Chris Archer and Madison Bumgarner.

The right-hander made 31 starts past year between the Rangers and Dodgers, pitching to a 3.86 ERA with a near-identical 3.83 FIP. His 2.71 ERA ranks second and his.203 opponent average is third-lowest.

Darvish has a long track record of throwing high-quality innings, with several years as a bonafide frontline starter on his resume. He did manage to make this past season's Midsummer Classic. The final spot will be a Springtime competition between newly-acquired Tyler Chatwood and Mike Montgomery. They removed sentiment from the equation by choosing Darvish over Jake Arrieta, a key figure in the transformation of the Cubs.

Arrieta was good last season, when he posted a 2.28 ERA after the All-Star break and made 20 road starts, the most by a Cub in 37 years.

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