The Chicago Cubs finally broke the silence of the off-season for starting pitchers this year. Top-line starters have been available all off-season and nobody has gone after them.
It has been an odd off-season in general, where “ageing” (in their 30’s) players are not being picked up by teams on long contracts. They made spring-training sites for free-agents in Arizona and Florida so those players could still show off their talents and make a deal with a team.
However, Saturday morning, Ken Rosenthal broke the news that the Chicago Cubs had signed free-agent pitcher Yu Darvish. Darvish signed a six-year deal worth 126 million dollars, and he can earn up to $150 million with incentives. There is also an opt-out option for Darvish coming after the second year of the deal.
For the Cubs, adding Darvish fills out their five-man starting rotation with a lot of typical number two starters, something manager Joe Maddon will have to fiddle with in Spring Training.
Their starting rotation after signing Darvish will contain Jose Quintana, Yu Darvish, Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, and Tyler Chatwood. Signing Darvish pushed Mike Montgomery from that fifth-starter role, to the long-reliever in the bullpen; a role he performed in both of the last two seasons as well.
The rumors of Jake Arrieta returning to the Chicago Cubs look bleak now, even more than they originally did. The Cubs reportedly did make an offer to Arrieta before signing Darvish, but it hasn’t been said whether or not that offer is still out there.
Adding Arrieta would be expensive, potentially pushing the Cubs over the mark they want to be under for next year’s huge free-agent class, as well as give them six starters.
Chatwood is the fifth man in the rotation right now, and does not have much experience in the bullpen. The Cubs really don’t want to put him there either, I don’t think. They signed him to a three-year deal and like his upside he brings as a starter.
There is rumors they could do a six-man rotation, which I would not put past Maddon, because he does whatever he wants and it somehow works. Even this seems a little bit too much though for a team that has so many veteran pitchers.
They kind of tried this six-man rotation out last year with Montgomery and Brett Anderson, but that did not work out. Obviously, this attempt at the six-man would have a lot more talent involved, but it is still highly unlikely that it would be done.
The six-man rotation would give older arms an extra day off which could help in the long run in terms of being fresh for late-season playoff starts, or if anyone has any injuries mid-season. It would also contradict everything those veteran pitchers had been used to for their entire career, and could give them a rocky start.
Whether or not the Cubs sign Arrieta, they have officially filled their five-man rotation and have a nice looking starting five ready to head into spring training with. The toughest decision for Maddon in terms of that starting rotation will be how he wants to order it.
Yu Darvish is a top arm that will immensely help the Cubs in their pursuit of another National League Central, National League, and World Series title run.