The Chicago Cubs and Yu Darvish, who have been a connection all offseason, agreed to a six-year-deal on Saturday.
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.
Darvish will solidify a Cubs rotation that was in need of one more frontline arm. Assuming he recovers from an apparent pitch-tipping issue which led to a pair of poor outings in the World Series, he should be a dominant pitcher in Chicago.
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. His 27 home runs allowed and 1.3 home runs per nine innings were the worst of his career. Since undergoing surgery, Darvish has a record of 17-17, with a 3.64 ERA, in 287 innings pitched, and 341 strikeouts in 48 starts.
It took all winter, but the Cubs have acquired a top-of-the-line starting pitcher. Of course, for Los Angeles to make that happen and stay under the luxury tax, they would have to make several payroll-cutting moves. In the Cubs' case that draft pick compensation didn't matter with re-signing Arrieta, though it may have been a factor in their decision to not pursue him very hard.
Darvish will join Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana and Tyler Chatwood in the Cubs' rotation, and Chicago will expect to challenge for another World Series championship with their newest free agent on board. What lasts in Los Angeles, however, are the two failed World Series starts, two losses that, coupled with a dismal Game 5 start from Kershaw, doomed the Dodgers.
At 31 years old, Darvish no longer looks like the ace he was at his best in 2013 when he finished second in AL Cy Young voting. After year three, he made three straight All-Star games. The former two showed only tepid interest due to their commitment to staying under the fake salary cap, and the latter two are likely going to focus on the remaining free agent starters - Arrieta, Lance Lynn, and Alex Cobb.