SAN DIEGO (AP) — After Yu Darvish finished answering a question about his new $108 million, six-year contract, the 36-year-old San Diego Padres ace turned to his interpreter, Shingo Horie, and added a thought.
“He still doesn’t believe if this is true or not; if it’s a prank,” Horie said.
It’s true, all right. Neither Darvish nor the Padres think the tall right-hander is anywhere close to being finished. He’s coming off one of his better seasons, when he helped lead the Padres on a stirring run to the NL Championship Series, and said he’ll do what it takes to still be pitching at a high level when he turns 42 late in the 2028 season, the last year of his deal.
“I just want to go as far as I can go and just kind of push myself as hard as I can,” Darvish said at a news conference Friday. “One thing I can say is the preparation will always be there; the hard work is always going to be there. We’ll see how far we can go.”
Darvish, who has a baffling array of pitches, is set to make $108 million over six years, including the $18 million he was already due in 2023 before he was to become a free agent.
Darvish was traded by the Cubs to the Padres before the 2020 season. He’s coming off one of the best years in his 11-year big league career, when he was 16-8 with a 3.10 ERA and 197 strikeouts. He was 2-1 in the postseason.
“I never thought I would get six years. You’re not really 100% sure of how far you can go just because it’s something in the future,” Darvish said.
The pitcher mentioned a conversation he had with owner Peter Seidler, who has shown he’s not afraid to spend big, and Preller.
“You really feel the appreciation, the trust that they have for me,” Darvish said. “That’s a big deal to me. That means a whole lot to me. That’s probably a big reason why I decided to stay here.”
The extension comes as the Padres head into arguably the most anticipated season in the history of a franchise that hasn’t played in the World Series since 1998 and has never won one. The Padres signed shortstop Xander Bogaerts to a $280 million, 11-year deal in December and will add Fernando Tatis Jr. to the active roster on April 20 after he finishes an 80-game suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.
“I’m just tremendously honored to be in their plan,” Darvish said. “Obviously this organization is going the right way as far as winning games and just being considered as part of that piece is very comforting.”
The Padres made this deal “with a lot of belief in him,” Preller said. “He’s a unique pitcher. He’s got a unique style; he’s got a lot of different ways to get you out. It’s not just based on velocity and power. He’s got all different weapons and pitchability components. I think from our standpoint we feel he’s going to perform as a top guy through this contract.”
Preller added that Darvish “has different versions of himself. We’ve seven, eight, nine different pitches and I think his ability to continue to reinvent and do different things on the mound, that will serve him well really at any stage, we feel, over the next six years.”
Preller said it gives the Padres “a lot of comfort” to have their two top pitchers, Darvish and Joe Musgrove, locked up long-term. Musgrove, who grew up a Padres fan in suburban El Cajon and was a first-time All-Star in 2022, signed a $100 million, five-year deal in July.
“They exemplify what we want to be about in terms of work ethic and always wanting to get better,” Preller said. “Those are the guys that usually beat the aging curve and will be the long-time performers. We’ve got a lot of talented guys and feel like Darvish is up there with anybody on our roster.”
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