The Chicago Cubs are heading into the MLB offseason looking to make a move or two to get them back to the top of the National League. After being handled easily by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS, Theo Epstein knows that the Cubs need to bring in another big piece or two to finish their puzzle.
One of the biggest needs could end up being starting pitching for the Cubs. Jake Arrieta and John Lackey are both free agency, and it is expected that they could both end up leaving Chicago. That would leave the Cubs with Jose Quintana, Jon Lester, and Kyle Hendricks as the three remaining rotation pieces from last season.
Joe Maddon could ask Mike Montgomery to slide into the starting rotation on a permanent basis. That isn’t an ideal option for the Cubs, as Montgomery struggled a bit as a starter in 2017.
There is one ideal free agency target for the Cubs to strengthen their rotation. Yu Darvish was acquired by the Dodgers at the trade deadline last season and is slated to hit open free agency. He won’t come cheap, but the Cubs’ rotation would be taken to the next level by signing Darvish.
After being traded to the Dodgers, Darvish had a 4-3 record in nine starts to go along with a 3.44 ERA. Darvish would compliment the rest of the Cubs’ projected starting rotation.
Epstein has never had issues spending money to put a championship contender on the diamond. Darvish will have a lot of interest in him when free agency opens, but very few teams can offer him the kind of money Chicago can along with the chance to compete for a World Series win.
Los Angeles will likely attempt to re-sign Darvish, although they are also said to be interested in Arrieta. Perhaps the Dodgers and Cubs could swap free agent pitchers. Epstein has also expressed interest in re-signing Arrieta, which would likely take the Cubs out of the Darvish sweepstakes.
At 31 years of age, Darvish still has some good baseball left in him. There is no telling how much money he is looking for, but he is without question worthy of a big four-year contract. Chicago has shown hesitance to sign Arrieta to a big contract, although that may change when they are faced with losing two of their starters.
Chicago couldn’t find a better starting pitcher in free agency than Darvish, although Arrieta would be just as big of a move if he chose to return to the Cubs. Darvish has been a Cy Young candidate before and has shown why during his run with the Dodgers. Signing with the Cubs would give him a chance to add to his legacy.
If the Cubs are able to sign Darvish, they would have one of the top rotations in the majors. Quintana, Lester, Darvish, and Hendricks would be extremely difficult to beat, especially in a postseason series.
Epstein won’t have an easy road to signing a piece like Darvish. Arrieta could end up being the better target, as he has shown his love for Chicago on multiple occasions. That being said, if Arrieta does end up leaving town, the Cubs would be wise to put a full-court press on Darvish and do everything they can to bring him in.
Do you think the Chicago Cubs should pursue Yu Darvish in free agency this offseason? Would Jake Arrieta be the better pickup if he chooses to re-sign? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below!
[Featured Image by Nam Y. Huh/AP Images]