Yu Darvish

Cubs just traded Yu Darvish for Zach Davies and a bunch of prospects. None of these prospect made it to A+ yet so they are all off our radar. Yu Darvish was in the middle of a 6 year $120M contract which is around the salary for a second or third starter salary on a good team. Like Trevor Bauer, Darvish had a very good shortened 2020 season. Let’s take a look at his career.

Yu Darvish 2012-2020

Year Rank WAA TeamID Pos
2013 +029+ 5.06 TEX PITCH
2014 +121+ 2.54 TEX PITCH
2016 +188+ 1.81 TEX PITCH
2017 +157+ 1.18 TEX PITCH
2017 +157+ 1.05 LAN PITCH
2018 XXXXX -0.82 CHN PITCH
2019 +169+ 2.23 CHN PITCH
2020 +005+ 4.26 CHN PITCH

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Show WAR Records

Darvish’ first season with the Cubs in 2018 wasn’t good and his contract was looking pretty bad.  He improved in 2019 after a rough start to that season.  By All Star break in 2019 that Darvish contract was looking horrible.  The rank links in these career tables bring up seasonal trajectories as well as post season play.  Darvish is very much under water in post season play during his career as well.

Let’s look at the pitcher Cubs acquired from San Diego for Darvish.

Zach Davies 2015-2020

Year Rank WAA TeamID Pos
2017 +180+ 1.93 MIL PITCH
2018 XXXXX -1.01 MIL PITCH
2019 +087+ 3.38 MIL PITCH
2020 +028+ 2.71 SDN PITCH

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Show WAR Records

Davies has 3 years less time in the league than Darvish and also posted a pretty good 2020.  Both these pitchers had problems in 2018.  Davies is also under water in post season play like Darvish.  If you look at seasonal trajectory in 2019 Davies was ranked #21 2 months into that season and dropped to #87 by the end.

Both these pitchers have similar numbers.  You can click on their WAR records to see what that model has to say.  Since this model does not go back farther than A+ there is no data on any of these prospects coming over from the Padres.  Hopefully Theo and (now only) Jed have more insight than simply reading Baseball Prospective.

Buy low sell high is often difficult in baseball because parting with a player who is highly rated is much harder than one who is lowly rated.  Unfortunately teams don’t return value on lowly rated players.  After the 2017 season Cubs fans would have been ecstatic parting with Darvish’ large contract for such a sub par year.  

Overall this seems like an OK deal if it frees up salary to acquire/keep all the Cubs who become free agents after this season.