Cubs president Theo Epstein said Yu Darvish was the team’s “primary target” this offseason. And it turns out the feeling was mutual on Darvish’s end, too.

Darvish said Tuesday during his introductory press conference that he prioritized a team that had the best chance of winning a World Series.

“The Cubs have obviously more than a great chance,” Darvish said.

Yu Darvish speaks to the media at his first news conference as a member of the Cubs. | John Antonoff/For the Sun-Times

The addition of Darvish completes a rotation that also includes Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana and Tyler Chatwood.

The Cubs are approaching spring training as if they have a six-man rotation with Mike Montgomery in the mix, but Epstein said the Cubs most likely wouldn’t go with a six-man rotation come April.

The Cubs inked Darvish, 31, to a six-year deal, which comes with a $126 million guarantee and a chance to make up to $150 million over the course of the deal. It’s only the Cubs fourth nine-figure contract in franchise history.

Darvish said that although he feels the pressures of a big contract he wants “to take that a positive way and motivate myself.”

Darvish will make $25 million in 2018, $20 million in 2019, $22 million in 2020 and 2021, $19 million in 2022 and $18 million in 2023, a source told the Sun-Times. Darvish made $56.3 million in his first six years in the major leagues; he’ll make just under $1 million of that six-year income in his first two years with the Cubs.

Darvish’s deal with the Cubs also comes with incentives if he finishes first through fifth in Cy Young voting during his contract.

From 2019 through 2023, Darvish’s base salary increases by $2 million if he wins the Cy Young Award, according to a source. His salary will increase by $1 million if he finishes second through fifth in the Cy Young voting.

Darvish also has a full no-trade clause through 2020. For the remainder of his contract which expires in 2023, Darvish has a limited no-trade clause, which means he gets to list 12 teams he’s interested in, according to a source.


The Cubs agreed to terms with a backup catcher Chris Gimenez on a minor-league contract in January.

Gimenez, 35, was Darvish’s personal catcher for a stretch of 12 of 13 starts with the Rangers in 2014.

Darvish was 6-4 with a 3.29 ERA in 79⅓ innings and 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings throwing to Gimenez during one of four All-Star seasons.



This is a developing story.