The Chicago Cubs made their six-year contract with Yu Darvish official on Tuesday, which coincided with their pitchers and catchers reporting for the start of Spring Training. The same held true for the Los Angeles Dodgers at Camelback Ranch.
In addition to pitchers and catchers, both camps saw several position players report early. For the Dodgers, it also marked the start of life without Darvish, after he spent a half-season with the team.
His joining the Cubs figures to add to the intrigue that exists between the two National League favorites. Clayton Kershaw said he would have preferred for the right-hander to return to the American League rather than sign with the Cubs.
But since that’s where he landed, Kershaw surmised the Dodgers would simply just need to defeat their former teammate.
In a similar light, Darvish told manager Dave Roberts his primary goal was beating the Dodgers, per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune:
Darvish thankful for time with Dodgers, told D. Roberts his main goal is to beat the Dodgers, also informed Kershaw of his signing and grateful for playing with him
— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) February 13, 2018
That Darvish specifically told Kershaw of his intention to sign with the Cubs is hardly a surprise. They formed a friendship last season and carried it over into the winter as they threw together on multiple occasions.
In his nine starts for the Dodgers, Darvish went 4-3 with a 3.44 ERA, 3.38 FIP and 1.15 WHIP. He was then stellar in the NL Division Series and Championship Series, allowing a combined two runs and striking out 14 in 11.1 innings.
Darvish then struggled in the World Series, where he went 0-2 and allowed nine runs (eight earned) while managing to record just five outs in both outings. Despite reports he tipped pitches, the subpar performances didn’t seem to deter the Cubs or Dodgers in pursuit of the 31-year-old.