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

MLB pitcher Jake Arrieta

The Chicago Cubs have agreed to sign Yu Darvish to a six-year, $126 million contract. The Cubs were seventh in Major League Baseball last season in starter ERA. According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Darvish will make $126 million with the chance to make $150 million through incentives. The seven free-agent pitchers signed by the Cubs is the 2nd most ever to the 2001 Texas Rangers, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

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. He's still an excellent starting pitcher to build a rotation around and will immediately make the Cubs more unsafe as they chase a World Series title in 2018 and beyond. 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.

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The Twins, Rangers, Brewers and Dodgers were also on Darvish's final list, but Milwaukee seemed unlikely after signing outfielder Lorenzo Cain to a multi-year contract and trading for coveted Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich. After pitching in two World Series games this past fall with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Darvish will join the 2016 champs.

The Cubs rotation of Darvish, Chatwood, Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana gives the club one of the best rotations in the game today. Last October, Darvish beat the Cubs in the National League Championship Series. Season leading up to free agency: 10-12, 31 starts, 186 2/3 innings pitched, 3.86 ERA. At an outlay of $21 million per year for Darvish, the Cubs aren't hamstrung going forward. That amount is considerably less than the offer they reportedly made to Arrieta (4-years, $110 million, a $27.5 million AAV), and allows the Cubs to remain well below the luxury tax threshold for this season.

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If pitchers like Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb were going to cost $20 million per season (the market probably won't yield that kind of deal for them now), the Cubs figured it was worth paying just a bit more to get Darvish.

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