It was not a conversation any of us expected to be having this year, or, heck, even back when Yu Darvish originally signed his six-year, $126 million contract before the 2018 season.
Heck, the proof is right there in the pudding of the way we talk about Darvish’s contract; we almost never mention the fact that it came with an opt-out after the second year. This is that second year.
When Darvish came out of the gate struggling badly this year – after a mostly lost 2018 debut season – it was much more rational to discuss whether the Cubs were just gonna have to eat the whole thing than discuss whether that opt-out would ever become relevant.
Yet, Darvish figured out some mechanical issues with his fastball, and went on such an absurd, ace-like tear starting just before midseason that, yeah, the whole opt-out thing at least had to be a (short?) conversation. Consider, this is a dude who has posted a 3.35 ERA with crazy peripherals since all the way back on May 31, and he’s a dude with ace track record in his past. It isn’t *CRAZY* to suggest he might think about seeing if the market held a guarantee better for him than the four years and $81 million left on his deal.
Which is not the same thing as saying you think he should or would actually opt-out. I don’t. At age 33, and in a market that has become utterly allergic to older players, I have a hard time imagining Darvish doing better than maybe three years and $50 million, much less four years+ and $80M+. Yes, he looks like an absolute stud right now and I’m happy the Cubs have him under control for a while yet, but the market would look at him as an older guy who missed two seasons’ worth of starts in the last five years, and was really quite bad for one years’ worth of the starts he did make.
There’d be plenty of free agent interest, but throw a qualifying offer on there, and I just don’t see a better contract coming for him.
Anyway, it might all be academic at this point, because the guy who has to make the decision sure doesn’t sound like he has any intention of leaving the Cubs:
Yu Darvish says he isn’t tempted to opt out of his Cubs contract after a dominant 2nd half: ‘I’m so comfortable he… https://t.co/RA7umzPP6s
— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) September 26, 2019
“I’m not thinking anything about it right now,” Darvish told the Tribune. “I have talked to my agent and family, too. But I’m so comfortable here. I really like this organization.”
I do tend to believe Darvish on that front, given the way the last couple years have gone, and given his typical openness on these kinds of conversations. Obviously he will still consider things when the time officially comes to make a decision – five days after the World Series ends – but given the market, and give his comfort in the organization, I’m fully expecting him to decline to opt out at this time.