The Cubs’ interest in free-agent pitcher Yu Darvish is surprising and intriguing at the same time.

Darvish and Jake Arrieta, both 31, are considered the top two starters on the market, and if Arrieta’s asking price was expected to be too high for the Cubs to consider re-signing him, it made sense Darvish’s demands would be out of their price range as well.

If that kind of money is going to be committed to a starter, wouldn’t a team just give it to the guy it already knows and trusts?

But the slow pace of the market has altered preconceived notions of what the Cubs may or may not do, and now that President Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer have met with Darvish in Dallas, they probably will be considered front-runners to sign the Japanese star.

Of course, just because Epstein and Hoyer flew to Dallas doesn’t mean they’re going to reel in Darvish. But it does show they are serious about getting something done and aiming high to find a suitable replacement for Arrieta.