The Cubs got their man, breaking the ice-cold thaw of the baseball offseason to bring Yu Darvish into Chicago for the next six seasons.
At the time of the signing, the Cubs held serve as the dealers of the top two starting pitching contracts this winter, committing $164 million to Darvish and Tyler Chatwood. Those two arms replace Jake Arrieta and John Lackey in the rotation.
That gives the Cubs a rotation (in some order) of:
Assuming none of those guys are injured, that's the best Opening Day rotation the Cubs have featured in Theo Epstein's tenure in Chicago.
It also may well be the best rotation in baseball entering the 2018 campaign.
Each of the top four starters could be aces on plenty of teams (especially with so many rebuilding squads projected for 2018) while Chatwood could potentially be the best No. 5 starter in the league.
Lester had a disappointing 2017 season as he dealt with a muscle issue in his shoulder and failed to top 200 innings for the first time since 2011. He is 34 already, but he is coming off a fantastic three-year stretch (2014-16) where he went 46-28 with a 2.74 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and roughly a strikeout an inning while finishing in the Top 5 in Cy Young voting twice.
Darvish is one of the top strikeout pitchers in the game while Hendricks and Quintana may be the two most underrated arms in baseball.
If Lester can return to ace form and the Cubs continue their run of remarkable pitching health (admittedly, two big "ifs"), this will be a tough rotation to outperform.
The clear challenger here is the Houston Astros after trading for Gerrit Cole last month:
Those guys are all studs, though there are some question marks associated with the group.
Morton has revitalized his career and while all signs point to the breakout as legit, there's no guarantee at age 34. Verlander is 35, Keuchel and McCullers have had some health issues and Cole has seen declining numbers of late.
But this is also the same staff that won the World Series last year and then went out and added a guy that went 19-8 with a 2.60 ERA and 202 strikeouts in 2015.
The Los Angeles Dodgers could also be contenders for the crown of MLB's top rotation, especially considering they have the game's best pitcher (Clayton Kershaw) when he's able to stay healthy.
The Dodgers are loaded with a bunch of very good starters but with all the injury question marks, it's hard to pen them higher than third in baseball.
The Nationals had maybe the best regular-season rotation in 2017 and figure to have the most dominant 1-2 punch in baseball with Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. The depth is a bit shaky after that, however.
The Red Sox have potential to be near the top of baseball's rotation power rankings, but they need big rebounds from David Price and Rick Porcello.
The Indians are right there, too, if Danny Salazar stays in Cleveland and finally puts it all together.
The Yankees have a nice Top 3 of Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Severino and Sonny Gray but beyond that, there isn't a starter that strikes fear in an opponent.
If the Mets' young power arms are all healthy at once, watch out. But I'll believe that when I see it.
With pitchers and catchers reporting in just a few days, the Cubs look like the frontrunner in the starting rotation power rankings.
And with that young core of hitters, they're setting their sights on a second World Series in three seasons.