Yu Darvish Introduction/Spring Training Press Conference

It's finally here! That's right, Cubs pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training in Mesa. It was one Chicago pitcher that was the center of attention on Tuesday. Yu Darvish was officially introduced as a Cub this afternoon.

Watch the full conference here:

The tall right-hander said via translator that he was very impressed with the sincere interest the Cubs showed in him from the start. Theo Epstein confirmed that Darvish was their number one off-season priority. He added that Yu was perhaps the best strike out pitcher in the major leagues.

Among the other insights in the presser: The Cubs felt they didn't have the best chance to get Darvish at first but the odds increased as the off-season developed. Asked if the signing of Chris Gimenez was a factor in his coming to Chicago, Darvish quipped he likes Willson Contreras better. Finally, he said he is looking to improve his overall game and isn't dwelling on his World Series struggles.

After Darvish departed, manager Joe Maddon and general manager Jed Hoyer joined Epstein on stage for the introductory spring press conference. Hoyer said obviously this was not a typical off-season and hoped it wasn't the trend going forward. He also added the Cubs top priority was pitching and they made almost no moves to boost the position player side of the roster.

Maddon wore a shirt with the slogan "Process Is Fearless" written in Japanese. He praised Darvish and added he would "verbally fight" anyone who thought the 2017 Cubs season wasn't a success. Joe wouldn't reveal a theme for the 2018 season other than to add it would change week to week and he was pretty excited about it.

Though hardly a surprise Epstein confirmed Jake Arrieta will indeed be moving on from the Cubs. Adding: "We wouldn't be wearing these World Series rings if it wasn't for Jake." As for the rotation, while not saying he will use a six-man rotation Theo made it clear they think of Mike Montgomery as a sixth starter that will have to start at some point during the season. Maddon mentioned Monty resembled a thin and trim Rob Gronkowski.

Kyle Schwarber was a topic of conversation throughout the press avail. Darvish said he was the most excited to see War Bear workout after the massive homer he hit off him last NLCS (see below). Maddon also added Kyle is in great shape and should move better in the outfield.

One thing is for sure, it's really nice to have baseball back.

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  • Darvish has a sense of humor, he's pretty funny if you read his twitter. VERY excited about 2018. I have the same feeling I had before 2016 very high expectations. the cubs responded when they went out with a dud in 2015 nlcs and I think the same will happen this year after the way they went out in the '17 nlcs.

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    It was a good news conference. I have to commend the translator too, he was very good (as far as I could tell) and Yu spoke for about 30 min.
    I also liked Joe's shirt, below the Japanese were Harry's glasses.
    It was so good to see a player in uniform. Winter is over folks, spring training is starting.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    The 3+ feet of snow on my back porch begs to differ, so I am all in on all vicarious spring yearnings. Play ball!

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Those are Joe's glasses, not Harry's. Same style as the "Try Not to Suck" shirts.

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    In reply to Cliff1969:

    I am corrected. Thanks Cliff.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Got a feeling that is Joe's glasses on the shirt.

  • I love this signing, even though the risk is there. Here's some other signings of note. Darvish is the oldest but this was a move that had to be made to keep the team competitive:

    Masahiro Tanaka - $155 – 7 years - 22.1 per year – 25 at time of contract
    CC Sabathia - $161 – 7 years – 23 per year – 28 at time of contract
    Felix Hernandez - $175 – 7 years – 25 per year – 26 at time of contract
    Justin Verlander - $140 – 5 – 28 per year – 32 when contract started
    Clayton Kershaw - $215 – 7 – 30 per year – 25 at time of signing
    Jon Lester - $155 – 6 – 25 per year – 30 at time of signing
    Yu Darvish - $126 – 6 – 21 per year – 31 at time of signing

  • In reply to Break The Curse:

    Add zach grienke getting 6 years 206 million at age 32,max scherzer 7 years 210 million at age 30,david price getting 7 years 217 million at age 31. Which is why you won't see me complaining about this darvish contract it's like a bargain compared to the last few years

  • Liked all of the moves/signings thus far this offseason. Sad to see Jake & Davis not part of it though... That’s the business side of baseball.

    Finally spring training is here & the rotation seems quite a bit more promising.

  • I liked Theo's statement comment that the team is stretching out six starters for spring training. The early schedule favors a hybrid with some combination of Lester, Darvish, Quintana, and Hendricks on the mound in Miami, followed by Chatwood and Montgomery in Cincinnati. Top four again in Milwaukee. Then #5 for home opener vs. Pirates, off day, and #1-#5 for the remainder of PIT and ATL setting up #1-#3 vs STL. Off day lets Chatwood avoid Coors Field, going #4-6-1 or #4-1-2 there before the schedule heats up with CLE/MIL/COL/STL. There are nine off days in April and May so that regardless of the set up everyone should be well rested heading into Memorial Day. I can see four guys with 30 starts and two combining for 40 (maybe 25-15) barring any downtime on the DL. Could be interesting to see how Joe and Jim keep everyone fresh for a deep run in October, and get strategic by creating favorable match-ups rather than being a slave to the calendar rotation.

  • In reply to charactercounts:

    I'd be surprised to see Montgomery start the 6th game of the year. Unless Theo said that of course. I think they go with the top 5 starters for at least the first couple of months unless there is an injury. But, I could be wrong.

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    In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Theo made clear they wouldn't start with a six man rotation. Just that Montgomery would make some starts this season. For double headers, injuries and rest reasons.

  • In reply to Sean Holland:

    Same as last year I take it. They stretched Montgomery out in spring training last year also if i recall correctly. By the way I enjoy reading your articles, thanks.

  • Now that things have settled, Cubs spring training will be quite stable. While all other NL competitors for NLCS are in a degree of uncertainty and wanting. This cannot be overlooked. Darvish is a very good professional and odds are his performance could be improved a bit with Cubs management. And if, if, they actually go with a part time 6 man rotation through the meat of season, this could be another find on the margins. Anyway it is a long season and the other thing is the Cubs will have $9m left in the coffer for a mid season unexpected need be acquired.

  • In reply to rnemanich:

    Nice post. I agree. I really like his LAD numbers coming over the NL. If he can keep his BB/K ratios the same, he will contend for a Cy Young when all is said and done.

    I have seen a few point out the $9MM left. Good news is a mid-season deal only increases the quality of the player in return as, let's use a deal after 81 games, the $9MM in reserves could acquire an $18MM player as they would be on the hook for half the salary remaining.

    I like the flexibility as well as the reinforcements brought in by Theo and Jed. '18 should be a fun year.

    Kinda off topic, but was disappointed to read about Ohtani's usage plan from the Angels -- Scoiscia said he is "here to pitch" which is surprising he chose the LAA over the Cubs. It was assumed Ohtani would have a chance to get quite a few at bats with LAA and maybe that is not accurate. We will see how it plays out, but I don't believe Scoiscia would pull a "bait and switch" on the first day of ST. If Ohtani is mainly a pitcher, he made a huge mistake going to the Angels, IMO.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    In all endeavors we attempt to plan and acquire assets and resources that we presume will provide success. Then things happen. In baseball it is often injuries but the bottom line is performance is lacking.

    Now if this roster is stable I think the Cubs have an opportunity. You always need a rotisserie roster spot to move players back and forth between AAA and MLB. They say that La Stella is that but he does not react well. Yet besides TLS's bat that can hit a 2AM what other value does he bring. 2nd base is covered by Baez, Zobrist and Happ. 3rd base there is Bryant & Zobrist, but also Caratini who could be there in a pinch. Caratini could also back 1st Base.

    I am saying that if young players, (Maples or whomever and Caratini) show well the Cubs consider trading TLS and Grimm for future value and bring up Caratini as the 3rd catcher/IF'er and bat off the bench. If the Cubs then need an arm they drop him and bring up an arm from the fast train from Des Moines.

    Finally, paid my MLB subscription yesterday, it appears I saved $10 doing it early

  • In reply to rnemanich:

    Might just have to get myself a MLB subscription this year,....

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    In reply to rbrucato:

    They said he's going to have a similar schedule to that he had in Japan hence they are going w 6 starters vs a 6 man rotation. The way I understand it, he's going to pitch once a week ( prob the same day every week so he keeps on his schedule while the other 5 starters fill in which will affect their routines and day off which makes me a little skeptical)

    His schedule in Japan was something like this

    Monday-- Pitch
    Tuesday- Off
    Wednesday--Off
    Thursday--DH/Hit
    Friday---DH/Hit
    Saturday--DH/Hit
    Sunday---OFF

    I am not sure if he routinely pinch hit on his days off either.

    Either way this experiment the angels are doing isn't going to show us how a 6 man rotation would truly work, its more like a "team works around Ohtani's schedule" Hopefully he's the truly generational talent people believe he is. If so, and they are winning, I don't think the Angels players will be too upset.

  • In reply to rnemanich:

    Cot's has the Cubs at $12.3M under the cap. They seem to usually be pretty accurate.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    I heard that the Darvish contract was front loaded the first 2 years before the opt out. Have we seen the details of the contract?

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    18-25 mil
    19-20 mil (opt out after '19 season)
    20-22 mil
    21-22 mil
    22-19 mil
    23-18 mil

  • I don't think any other pitcher acquisitions, free agent or trade, would look as good as getting Darvish. The Cubs gave more years than they preferred to give, but at an affordable price. There is a lot of baseball to be played. It looks like the front office had a good winter.

  • Theo on the score earlier & now Jed on a.m. 1000 w/Kap. Talking Cubs baseball... Love it.

  • Crazy no one is signing.Thought Darvish signing would start things going. ST is starting and 6 of top 10 FAs unsigned. This is nuts. How is this going to shake out?

  • In reply to Oneear:

    Someone is going to be sitting around in May wondering why the heck they're not playing baseball. Maybe even more than one someone.

  • In reply to hoffpauir6:

    The player's union procured the use of the IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL for the unsigned FA's to hold workouts while awaiting offers. Ken Rosenthal tweeted a couple hours ago that a ML FO member was escorted out of the facilities. A player was quoted as saying this isn't a showcase for baseball executives, while others can't understand why these unsigned players wouldn't want the exposure. I don't know enough to offer an opinion on who is right or wrong, except to say that tensions are high.

  • The top couple 2, 3 left are Boras FAs. That could be part of it.

    Listening to Theo today, he mentioned it was a combo of a lot of variables & factors this off season. The CBA was the 1st thing he mentioned. Luxary tax & which teams choosing not to ignore it this time around, and comparing the supply this year to the supply next year along w/the demands of teams to their needs this year vs next. Not to mention the yrs/$s/terms of this years FAs vs teams budgets/needs.

  • Before his world series implosion. Darvish allowed 2 hits and one walk and had 14 k's in 11 postseason innings vs the cubs and d backs. It's obvious he had to be tipping his pitches. That ended up benefiting the cubs. There's an article on the athletic about the cubs recruiting pitch for darvish. Theo is truly a major asset to this organization.

  • In reply to bolla:

    8 hits but who's counting ;)

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    So just a thought on how our rotation lines up.

    Let's assume Darvish is the #1. He's probably just a step back -- barely -- from the elite #1s. (Kershaw, Sale, Scherzer.) Still, nothing at all to complain about here.

    Slot Hendricks in #2. He's crazy good there. Strasburg is a better 2 but not many teams can compete there.

    Quintana at #3. He's maybe the best 3 in the game.

    Lester at #4. Even in decline, he can win a lot of games here.

    Chatwood at #5. This is where it gets almost unfair. Chatwood is insanely better than most teams 5s. The Cubs could pick up a lot of wins with this matchup.

    In reality, they'll probably flip Hendricks and Quintana to break up the lefties, at which point you get Q at 2 where (IMO) he's okay but not great but Hendricks at #3 is almost unfair.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Yep.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    That is an absolutely astounding, cost-controlled staff for many years to come. I know you are against the Quintana deal. I have been for it.

    We are in a Championship window. Theo and Jed have admitted that by acquiring Quintana at such a low cost, we were able to sign Darvish. I understand all this wasn't planned, but this is how it worked out. The Cubs have Darvish and Quintana in our rotation in the next 3+ years of our Championship window, and the Sox have the very real potential of Eloy. I can really keep arguing, but I'll just let that sink in.

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    I praise them and you pick a fight.

    You're mischaraterizing me: the crux of my argument is and was that they didn't get enough for Eloy. For example, you might have been able to pry Salazar away from the Indians this off-season (who I'd rather have). Then you have Salazar and Darvish. (And, not impossibly, Dylan Cease in our bullpen this/next year.) They certainly could have played for Cole who I'd forgotten about and I'd rather have, even on 2 years. The deal they gave the Sox is the kind of package that could have brought 5 years of Michael Fulmer. Then you have Fulmer plus Darvish and $8 million to spend on a pillow contract to Greg Holland. With the Fulmer contract, you could even consider adding Jake instead of Chatwood at that point (probably on the Fowler contract), but they seem to be pretty high on Chatwood, so that might not have happened.

    As a further point: I get that the trade was pretty much a fait accompli because they have Schwarber in left and -- whatever they may say -- plan to go completely all out for Harper next winter. And between money and Bryant they'll probably get him. I don't think it's the only viable option but it certainly is one of them.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Any thoughts on where Cub's will get the money for a Harper or Machado contract should they decide to go after them? Just 12 mil or so under luxury tax this year and salaries escalating.

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    In reply to Letsplay2:

    They'll necessarily go over the tax. It's about minimizing the cost to do so next year.

  • In reply to Letsplay2:

    That is why they won't pursue either Machado or Harper. They do need to start extending their own position players.

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    In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    The problem with that is Epstein referred at the press conference to the need to stay under the cap because of plans they have in the future. If those plans are only extending their own players, it makes no sense because the tax for just going over the limit this year would be fairly minimal. If they intend to sign a qualified FA, though, it means a bigger hit to the draft and IFA.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    That is one huge step Darvish is behind Kershaw, Sale and Scherzer. Darvish is not in their league. Not sure why you would want Salazar over Quintana. Salazar spends just about every year on the DL. He just can't stay healthy.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I think you are under rating Quintana. I'd much rather have Quintana over Salazar.

  • Think we can get Arrietta for 1 year at 12 million?

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