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Cubs reportedly sign big MLB free agent to massive deal

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MLB’s hot stove has been ice cold this winter, but the top free agent pitcher has reportedly joined a new team.

Yu Darvish, who pitched for the Rangers and Dodgers last season, has agreed to a $126 million deal, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

Rosenthal said the deal is for six seasons and could be worth up to $150 million if Darvish reaches all of his incentives.

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MLB.com reported the signing but said the Cubs could not immediately confirm the deal because it was pending a physical exam.

The Cubs had appeared to be the favorite to land Darvish considering the question marks in their rotation. Veterans John Lackey and Jake Arrieta are both free agents, and neither is expected to return to Chicago.

Darvish met with other teams, including the Dodgers who wanted him to return. However, once the pitcher began to drop his price tag, Chicago amped up its efforts and landed him with a six-year deal.

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That extra year may have been the difference as Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports said the Brewers and Twins had five-year deals to Darvish on the table.

Since Darvish was ineligible for a qualifying offer from the Dodgers this offseason, the Cubs won’t have to relinquish a draft pick in return to sign him.

The Cubs have now solidified their starting rotation with Darvish and by signing Tyler Chatwood, formerly of the Rockies. The Cubs had a 3.95 ERA as a team last season, which was fourth best in the NL but still a ways off from the league-leading 3.15 ERA they posted in 2016.

For his career, Darvish averages 11 strikeouts per nine innings, which is the highest ratio in MLB history for a pitcher with 100 career starts.

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He will be joining the NL Central, where he has made eight starts in his career. Darvish has a 2.42 ERA in those starts, which includes the postseason. His last win came against the Cubs, who he defeated in Game 3 of the NLCS last season.

Darvish had an up and down 2017 season that started in Arlington with the Rangers but ended in Los Angeles with the Dodgers. He posted a 4.01 ERA with the Rangers but improved as he moved to the senior circuit with a 3.44 ERA with LA.

Darvish made his fourth All-Star team but struggled once he reached the postseason. While he won his first two starts in the playoffs, he then allowed eight earned runs across 3.1 innings pitched in the World Series.

Astros players later revealed that Darvish was tipping his pitches in the World Series so they were ready for whatever he threw. Tipping pitches is seen as easily correctable so it shouldn’t be an issue for him going forward.

Through no fault of his own, Darvish was also caught up in a scandal involving the Astros’ Yuli Gurriel. The first baseman made a racially insensitive gesture mocking the pitcher, who was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and Iranian father. Gurriel wasn’t disciplined in the World Series but will be suspended for the first five games of this season.

Chicago is already being considered as one of the favorites to win the pennant in 2018. The Cubs will be looking to make the postseason for the fourth straight season, which is something they have never done in franchise history.

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Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009.
Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009 and previously worked for ESPN, CBS and STATS Inc. A native of Louisiana, Ross now resides in Houston.
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