Yu Darvish Presser Bits: Picking the Cubs, His Time in L.A., Meeting Kyle Schwarber, Loving Willson Contreras

Earlier today, Theo Epstein introduced the newest member of the Chicago Cubs, right-hander Yu Darvish, in Arizona, making the six-year/$126 million deal reported on Saturday officially official.

If you’d like, you can watch the entirety of the press conference right here (you’ll want to skip ahead to the ten-minute mark, which is when it really starts).

But if you don’t have the time to sit through the whole thing, fear not. I’ve collected some of the highlights for you below, and we can talk through them as we go. Ready?

  • First thing’s first, Theo Epstein made it clear that Yu Darvish was the Cubs primary target of the offseason:
  • He later admitted that while Darvish wasn’t necessarily the plan from Day 1, that’s not because they didn’t want him (they did). They just weren’t sure they were going to be able to get him on the sort of deal that would allow them to remain under the luxury tax threshold this season, and, given their plans in the future, that was a priority. As we’ll explore soon, the $21M in average annual value on Darvish’s contract should keep the Cubs comfortably under the luxury tax threshold in 2018.
  • Epstein also explained that the cost-control years of Jose Quintana played a role in the idea that they could go after another high-priced pitcher:
  • In a way, this makes parting with a prospect like Eloy Jimenez even more digestible, because it led to not one, but two quality starting pitchers on the North Side for the foreseeable future. And in any case, it sounds like the “plan” officially changed around the Winter Meetings:
  • Back to the presser … This video from NBC Sports Chicago also collected some of Epstein’s thoughts, including his love for Darvish’s skillset:
  • As Brett pointed out, Epstein seemed throughly (and rightfully!) pleased with the move:
  • And here’s the moment he finally put the jersey on:
  • As for why Darvish chose the Cubs, Gordon Wittenmyer and Carrie Muskat have us covered:
  • Darvish was referring to the meeting back in December, when Epstein and Jed Hoyer traveled to Dallas to meet with Darvish. Epstein added that Darvish’s maturity, understanding of the game, and development as a pitcher stuck out in the lengthy conversation (which they had in English).
  • Darvish was asked about the contract details – particularly the opt-out clause after just two years – but responded that it wasn’t appropriate to talk about it and that he’s happy to be in Chicago and with the Cubs. Frankly, there’s not much more you can expect him to say. Obviously, he’s hoping he can pitch well enough to opt-out and earn more money – the Cubs are hoping he pitches that well too! – but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to be in Chicago.
  • With that said, Darvish also shared some thoughts on his short time with the Dodgers, which he clearly treasured:
  • Given the way he spoke of the Dodgers, well, let’s just say the Cubs are probably lucky they couldn’t figure out a way to move Matt Kemp’s salary in time.
  • Without a doubt, the highlight of the press conference was when Darvish was asked if the Cubs signing Chris Gimenez, his friend and former catcher in Texas, had anything to do with picking the Cubs …
  • Willson Contreras clearly caught word of the compliment, and responded:
  • https://twitter.com/WContreras40/status/963502578066587648

  • And, finally, when pressed on what really brought him to the Cubs, Darvish pointed to the group of young talented players already on the roster. And when he was asked whom he looked forward to meeting/playing with in particular, he responded not with Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, or Jon Lester, but Kyle Schwarber … and for good reason:
  • In case you forgot what that homer looked like
  • written by

    Michael Cerami began covering the Chicago Cubs for Bleacher Nation as a part-time contributor in 2015. One year later, he joined Bleacher Nation full-time, covering the Chicago Cubs and Major League Baseball. Today, Michael runs Bleacher Nation, contributing as a writer (Cubs, MLB) and an editor for all sections of the site, including the Chicago Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks, as well as MLB, NBA, NHL, and NFL. In 2019, Michael was the co-host of NBC Sports Chicago's Cubs Post-Game Show Outside the Ivy. You can find him on Twitter/X @Michael_Cerami

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