It took a little over three months, but we have our biggest free agent signing of the offseason, with Yu Darvish reportedly set to join the Cubs on a six-year $126 million dollar deal. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic was first to pass along word of the agreement. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that the deal contains an opt-out in the second year, so the 31-year-old right-hander can become a free agent again after the 2019 season. With escalators, the deal could be worth up to $150 million for the former Ranger and Dodger.
There are huge implications from this deal, both fantasy and otherwise. Outside of his World Series struggles, Darvish was solid in the National League with the Dodgers after coming over from the Rangers in the biggest deadline deal last summer. He struck out 61 hitters in his 49 ⅓ innings, and he posted a solid 3.44 ERA in the process. While it does appear that he tired in his final two starts for Los Angeles in the Fall Classic, he does look like he’s fully recovered from Tommy John surgery, and should continue to put up impressive numbers for however long he’s a member of the Cubbies.
And for the Cubs, it gives them arguably the best rotation in the National League, and possibly all of baseball. Chicago will be able to send out Darvish, Jon Lester, Jose Quintana, Kyle Hendricks and Tyler Chatwood in some order, and with that talent, the order doesn’t really matter. That’s five starters who have shown the ability to miss bats and initiate weak contact, and even if Chatwood pales in comparison to the talent of the “big four,” it gives the Cubs a complete rotation that can give hitters fits.
The biggest implications here, however, might be on what this does for the rest of the market. With Darvish considered by almost everyone -- and we only say almost to play it safe -- to be the top starter on the open market this winter, it could set things in motion for some of the other big name free agents to sign. Starters like Alex Cobb, Jake Arrieta and Lance Lynn now become “fallback” options for the teams that were interested in Darvish, and their negotiations should pick up immediately.
If they weren’t already, the Cubs are now once again clear favorites to win the National League Central, as well as a legitimate candidate to dethrone the Dodgers as the National League champions. In turn, Darvish should put up big strikeout rates for the Cubs with a quality ERA. This is definitely a win-win -- assuming you don’t root for another team in the NL.
Realmuto an option for Astros?
The Astros and Marlins have been two of the busiest teams this offseason, although for wildly different reasons. According to Craig Mish of Sirius XM, the fire selling Marlins and “going for it” Astros could match up for a significant move.
Mish reports that the Marlins and Astros have discussed a trade for Miami catcher J.T. Realmuto. It’s unknown how far along those negotiations are, but Mish reports that Miami has asked for prize prospect Kyle Tucker in return, and the Astros haven’t said no to including him in the deal.
This would be an interesting deal from both sides, and could extend what is already one of the best lineups in baseball even more. No, we’re not talking about the Marlins. Adding the 26-year-old backstop who is coming off a season where he hit 17 homers and registered a .783 OPS makes the already loaded Astros lineup all the more impressive. It would also help his fantasy value, as he should have many more RBI opportunities, and the right-handed hitting Realmuto would also get to hit in the friendly confines of Minute Maid Park in half of his game.
It sounds like this one is in the early stages, but if it does happen, Realmuto’s value would rise substantially if he does get to play for the defending world champion Astros.
Quick hits: MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez reports that the Braves have expressed "serious interest" in Eduardo Nunez … Rangers LHP Martin Perez (elbow) has begun throwing off a mound … Giants general manager Bobby Evans said Friday that the team hasn't engaged in any recent contract extension talks with Madison Bumgarner's agent … Evan Drellich of NBC Boston reports that Logan Morrison and the Red Sox "have been in touch recently.” … Rays prospect Nick Ciuffo was suspended 50 games by MLB after a second positive test for a drug of abuse … Marlins' team president of baseball operations David Hill confirmed Saturday that Brad Ziegler will head into spring training as the team's closer ... Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com reports that Aaron Sanchez (finger) has been throwing pain-free since January ... Diamondbacks 3B Brandon Drury has drawn "a fair bit" of trade interest this offseason, according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic.