HERSOM: Cubs make big splash with Darvish

Cubs' Addison Russell Pumped For Yu Darvish Can't Wait to Meet Him!!

Cubs' Addison Russell Pumped For Yu Darvish Can't Wait to Meet Him!!

"He was our primary target, and we think this is a great day for the Cubs organization to welcome a pitcher of this caliber", said Epstein of the signing of Darvish. He was the Game 1 victor in the World Series, but blew a four-run lead and didn't make it out of the fifth inning of Game 5 - which the Astros won 13-12 in 10 innings. Last year, Arrieta posted a decent 14-10 record with a 3.52 ERA and a 1.218 WHiP, but only threw 168.1 innings in his 30 starts. Fans rose to their feet as Arrieta walked off the mound, knowing well it was likely the end of his dominance in a Cubs uniform.

Other than the date and the setting, the Cubs' unveiling of their latest acquisition was largely unremarkable.

The five key starters were among 26 pitchers used by pitching coach Rick Honeycutt for a team that won 104 games.

The starting rotation, though, looked quite a bit rougher before Darvish inked his deal. Even for all that he offers as an effective swingman, Montgomery simply can not compete with that. Darvish brings a career 3.42 ERA into a relatively hitter friendly park in Wrigley Field and should be a fun pitcher to watch for the next six years. Arietta seems primed to sign with a team like the Twins, Angels, or Dodgers who could push for playoff contention in 2018.

But this was no typical offseason, and Darvish's introductory news conference, which bled over into the welcome-to-spring media session with Maddon, Hoyer and Epstein, contained an uncomfortable underpinning of the sort that is certain to be one of the biggest story lines in the game, leaguewide, this spring - the result of the unprecedented slow-moving nature of this winter's free agent market and the labor unrest it has engendered.

Everything seems to be coming together for the Cubs after getting trounced by the Dodgers in the NLCS a year ago and, in my totally expert and non-biased opinion, I'm having visions of seeing the Commissioner's Trophy make its return to the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field. They're otherwise dependent on a bevy of talented but young and mostly inexperienced starters. He also played for the Cubs' arch rival, the St. Louis Cardinals, in 2015, which makes his signing even more special because he'll be throwing against them. In Los Angeles, that's probably Kenta Maeda, in Washington that's probably Tanner Roark, and in Chicago that's probably three-time World Series champion Jon Lester.

The Cubs are banking on the likes of Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana continuing to evolve into top-of-the-rotation pitchers. Was this the piece that the Cubs needed to take them on another deep run into October?

Make no mistake: Both the Dodgers and Nationals will be juggernauts in their respective divisions and in the National League, but the power has shifted significantly out of their favor.

The contract is ideal for the Cubs, both immediately and after 2018. Arrieta would bolster their chances of winning their first World Series.

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