Yu Darvish, the newest member of the Cubs, was signed by the club for 6 years and $126 million for the opportunity of up to $150 million. Cubs fans everywhere were happy with the decision being finalized after it was reported about 2 months ago by @BarstoolCarl. Darvish was ranked the number 3 free agent available by MLB.com, so this is clearly a good get for the Cubs. If Darvish can stay healthy and figure out how to be more deceptive with his pitches, I think he will have a lot of success.
This move definitely makes the rotation stronger, since Mike Montgomery is no longer in it. Love the guy, he was responsible for throwing the last pitch in the Cubs 2016 World Series win, but he definitely did not deserve to be a starter. The Cubs will likely go with a 5 man rotation of Darvish, Lester, Hendricks, Quintana and Tyler Chatwood, who agreed to a 3 year/$38 million contract in December.
While this does make the rotation stronger, this does not solve everything for the Cubs. The bullpen could use a much needed revamp. Pedro Strop struggles with consistency and Carl Edwards Jr. showed flashes of greatness last season, but also struggled with consistency. We didn’t know if either of them would come out and have 5 Ks in two innings or 4 walks and 3 runs. Hector Rondon leaving is a huge plus in itself, but losing the best closer in baseball in Wade Davis definitely hurts. As it stands, Brandon Morrow is the closer and I don’t know if I like the sound of that. Morrow had a 2.06 ERA last year in 43.1 IP for the Dodgers, good numbers, but consistency has been a problem over his career. Hopefully, Chicago is the place where he can find himself and figure everything out.
The Cubs have a lot of work to do this Spring Training if they want to return to the NLDS this season. That has become the expectation around Chicago and around the organization. After three straight seasons of getting there with the predominantly same core, anything less than the NLDS would be a disappointment.