When you think about an “impact” signing, you typically think about a singular stud of a player at a position of need. A guy who can step into a void, and immediately provide a dramatic improvement in performance.
If that’s your only definition of an “impact” signing, then I think you could argue that the Chicago Cubs landing Yu Darvish today is not that kind of impact signing. After all, you could say that the Cubs didn’t have a huge void in the rotation right now. But we know this is an extremely impactful signing, so clearly, that definition is off. How about a signing that improves three different portions of the roster all at once? Maybe some portions more significantly than others, but unquestionably all three of them. That do anything for you?
That’s what the Cubs have done today by adding Darvish.
- Darvish slides into the rotation, and is an upgrade over Mike Montgomery. The Cubs can go Darvish, Jose Quintana, Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, and Tyler Chatwood as their front five, and I’m just drooling looking at that. Two of the 2016 Cy Young finalists as the 3 and 4?!? Also, I remain a big buyer on Chatwood’s upside with the Cubs, so I’m loving this rotation.
- Montgomery then becomes the Cubs’ obvious sixth starter. Sure, they have other depth options like Alec Mills, Eddie Butler, and Jen-Ho Tseng, but Montgomery is clearly number six, as he was last year when he made 14 starts for the Cubs. Know how many teams have a sixth starter as good as Montgomery? Very few. And he happens to be a guy the Cubs don’t have to risk losing through the waiver process if he doesn’t make the rotation, because he can simply slide into the bullpen. The Darvish signing, therefore, is a tremendous boost to the Cubs’ starting pitching depth.
- When he’s not starting, Montgomery will be back in the bullpen, where he has been fantastic for the Cubs. He can pitch in a match-up role, a late-inning role, a middle relief role, or a multiple-inning role. The Cubs have a relatively full bullpen as it is, with all of Morrow, Strop, Edwards, Cishek, Wilson, Duensing, Alvarez, Maples, and Grimm pushing for spots, but you know there will be some attrition in Spring Training. Adding Montgomery to that mix improves the bullpen overall.
I really don’t think you can overstate how impactful this signing is for a Cubs team that was already still looking like the class of the NL Central, but just upped the ante considerably. With the Cubs in the middle of a seven-year competitive window, adding a 31-year-old Darvish is going to significantly improve the Cubs’ chances of staying truly competitive for the next four years as Jon Lester continues to get long in the tooth, as Kyle Hendricks gets pricier and nears free agency, and as the Cubs still battle their struggles to develop starters internally.
I am extremely happy about this signing.
The signing also, in an indirect way, sets in motion the Cubs’ plans behind the plate. With Darvish in the fold, his former personal catcher Chris Gimenez figures to have just locked up the back-up catcher job. As we’ve discussed, that was probably already the case, but this cinches it. I like that, too, for the Cubs. Gimenez has been a successful back-up for years, can still hit lefties, is a good veteran presence, and allows the Cubs to decide what they want to do with Victor Caratini rather than being forced to use him as the back-up catcher.
Today is a good day, Cubs fans.