Hey, would you look at that! A good baseball player has signed a free agent contract with a good baseball team! So it’s not impossible!
As Rosenthal later clarified, Darvish’s contract is for $126 million, with incentives that could bring it up to $150 million. But those incentives aren’t exactly super-duper likely:
$126 million is a lot of money, but it’s not, like, a huge contract for a near-ace: Johnny Cueto got $130 million for four years back in 2015; Zack Greinke got $207 million over six years that same year; and David Price got $217 million over seven years. Darvish is younger than both Greinke and Price were when they signed their deals; it’s also true that his ERA has been broadly trending in the wrong direction since his breakout 2013 with the Rangers, and he was roughed up pretty significantly in the World Series.
But it’s also the case that MLB teams have been sitting on their hands this winter, and increasingly it was looking like, in order to get jobs, some good players were going to have to scale back their salary expectations. In the meantime, the Cubs still look very much like a very serious World Series contender. I suppose the question, now, is what this will mean for Cubs ace Jake Arrieta, another unsigned free agent reportedly holding out for a longer contract. Perhaps Yu going to the Cubs will set a fresh market and finally loosen things up for other signings.