In a decision that won’t surprise anyone, right-hander Yu Darvish will not opt out of the remaining four years and $81MM on his contract, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman tweets. The 33-year-old had the right to re-enter the open market but will now remain with the Cubs for the final four seasons of that deal.
The first year of Darvish’s six-year, $126MM contract was an abject bust, as the former Rangers ace only pitched 40 innings while battling a series of injuries. Unsightly as the deal looked entering the season, though, Darvish did restore some credibility with a solid 3.98 ERA, 11.5 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 over the life of 31 starts (178 2/3 innings). Digging a bit deeper, Darvish’s final 20 starts were downright vintage form; he averaged 6 1/3 innings per outing while working to a 3.35 ERA with 11.8 K/9 and the best control of his big league career (1.3 BB/9).
Encouraging as that season was — his final four months, in particular — no one expected that Darvish would again test the open market. He’d surely have fallen shy of that $81MM guarantee, and as the pitcher himself explained in September, he and his family enjoy living in Chicago.
Darvish will return to a Cubs rotation that also includes Jon Lester (in the final season of his seven-year, $161MM deal), Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana. Righty Kendall Graveman could factor into the fifth spot in the rotation, as could Tyler Chatwood, but the Cubs will likely be in the market to reshape their pitching staff to some extent this winter.