Cubs, Darvish agree to 6-year deal

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The winter-long dance is over.

Yu Darvish is taking his talents to the Windy City.

Darvish, a free agent, signed a six-year deal with the Cubs Saturday.

This deal is coming at the back end of an offseason that has seen one of the slowest free agent markets in history with many players still unsigned and Spring Training just around the corner.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because there was no official announcement.

The move, first reported by The Athletic (and pending a physical exam), immediately solved the Cubs' biggest need - front-line starting pitching - and gave them an identifiable, reasonable pathway to a third straight National League Central title, assuming they can hold off resurgent rivals Milwaukee and St. Louis.

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Even with some red flags, Darvish is a huge addition for a team that will compete for another World Series in 2018.

Darvish will join Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana, and Tyler Chatwood in what will be a very strong rotation. The Japanese star is expected to take the rotation spot of Jake Arrieta, who became a free agent after finishing the year in Chicago.

Aside from the Yankees trading for Giancarlo Stanton, the Cubs are the clear victor of a slow offseason, signing two starting pitchers, a closer in Brandon Morrow and relief help in Steve Cishek and Brian Duensing. Arrieta, who won the NL Cy Young Award in 2015, remains on the market, and Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn also could draw more interest with Darvish locked up. Since he debuted in 2012 as a 24-year-old, Darvish has thrown 832 1/3 innings with a 3.42 ERA and 19.0 fWAR.

After a 103-win 2016 season that culminated in a World Series title, the Cubs won 11 fewer games past year and lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL Championship Series, but will enter 2018 with a projected rotation of Darvish, Jon Lester, Jose Quintana, Kyle Hendricks and Tyler Chatwood, which will rank among the best in the league.

Darvish, 31, went 10-12 with a 3.88 ERA last season with the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Dodgers.

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