Yu Darvish apparently won't opt out of contract, will return to Cubs in 2020


Yu Darvish is here to stay.

Darvish could have re-entered free agency this offseason, as the six-year deal he signed with the Cubs in February 2018 includes an opt-out clause after the 2019 season. He has chosen not to exercise that clause — according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman — and will therefore remain under contract with the Cubs through 2023.

Darvish’s Cubs career got off to an inauspicious start, as he posted a 4.95 ERA in his eight starts in 2018 before succumbing to a persistent triceps injury. This came on the heels of his free agency, which lasted into February, meaning he essentially jumped into spring training while he and his family adjusted to their new city/living situations.

But after undergoing a debridement procedure on his right elbow in the offseason, Darvish enjoyed much better results in 2019. In 31 starts he posted a 3.98 ERA, striking out 229 batters in just 178 2/3 innings. Darvish only got better as the season went on, too, posting a 2.76 ERA in 13 second half starts, striking out 118 batters in 81 2/3 innings.

It was evident from spring training this season that Darvish was much more comfortable compared to 2018. In fact, during the Cubs’ final 2019 series, Darvish credited his turnaround to the organization remaining patient with him.

"Because of the Cubs," Darvish said on Sept. 27 in St. Louis. "The organization - not only Joe [Maddon] and Theo [Epstein] and Jed [Hoyer] and the other guys were patient and they were always helpful for me."

For the Cubs, Darvish's decision means the team will have their No. 1 starting pitcher next season. Darvish will likely be the team's Opening Day starter in 2020, leading a rotation that has some uncertainty behind likely No. 2 starter Kyle Hendricks.

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