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Texas Rangers Win Negotiating Rights to Japan’s Best Pitcher, Yu Darvish

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Yu Darvish, Japan’s Best Pitcher

The Texas Rangers had a plan all the time, it appears.  Passing up the opportunity to compete aggressively for the free agent contracts of C.J. Wilson, the Rangers’ ace pitcher of 2011, and Mark Buehrle, a proven big-time pitcher for the Chicago White Sox, the Rangers chose instead to keep their powder dry and pay big money for the negotiating rights to Japan’s best pitcher, Yu Darvish

Yu DarvishReportedly, the posting fee for the rights to Darvish was $51.7 million.  The team will have 30 days to negotiate a contract with the pitcher.  It is expected that the Rangers will offer a six-year deal for an amount between $100 million and $125 million (and that will include the posting fee)..

Called by Bobby Valentine one of the “four best pitchers in the world” (Source: ESPN), the 25-year-old Darvish already has over 90 wins to his credit and a lifetime ERA of less than 2.00. 

The Rangers have been scouting Darvish for a while.  General manager Jon Daniels took a trip to Japan during the summer of 2011, along with one of his top scouting advisers, to watch him pitch.  It had been reported that they were very impressed with him, but in recent days, the Rangers had been downplaying their enthusiasm about bringing him to Texas.

C.J. WilsonFree Agent Rumors vs. What the Rangers Wanted

Only a few weeks ago, the Rangers lost C.J. Wilson to their division rivals, the L.A. Angels.  ESPN Dallas reported that the Rangers never really made an official offer to Wilson.  Wilson wanted a longer term on his contract than what the team was willing to offer the 31-year-old.  Coming off of two years of postseason failure, Wilson’s stock value among the Rangers’ faithful followers had taken a nosedive.  Apparently, management felt the same way.

All eyes turned to Buehrle.  The consensus was that the Rangers had passed up the C.J. Wilson sweepstakes in order to offer Mark Buehrle a hefty contract.  The Rangers, however, withheld their best effort again, and it was apparent they were about to roll the dice on Japan’s best.

Another theory that was being tossed around awhile was that the Rangers were going to opt for trying to sign the Milwaukee Brewers’ slugger, Prince Fielder.  So far, it has not happened, but the rest of the league and the local fans now know two new things about the home team: They have deep pockets, and they are now willing to compete in the free agent market. 

Alexi OgandoThe Texas Rangers Pitching Lineup

If the Rangers are successful in signing Yu Darvish, and there is no reason to think now that they will fail to do so, the starting rotation for the ball club will be young, experienced pitchers with tons of talent.  The roster of starting pitchers would include Colby Lewis, Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, Neftali Feliz, and Alexi Ogando—six pitchers in all. 

The bullpen should be among the league’s best, with relievers Joe Nathan, Mike Adams, Scott Feldman, and perhaps, Alexi Ogando, should he be the pitcher who moves back to the bullpen where he has been successful before.  With both Feldman and Ogando having good experience as starters, either of them could move into the starting rotation if someone is injured.  It is only speculation at this point, but there are some good trade values among the Rangers’ pitching staff, and it is still a long time before the start of the 2012 season.

News of a sweet television deal is on the horizon already.  With Darvish, who has a strong following in Japan where he enjoys star status, both on and off the field, the Rangers brand in major league baseball should take another giant leap—it is already the best it has ever been.  After two consecutive trips to the World Series, on the field, the Rangers deserve the accolades of their fans.  This isn’t the old team that played at Turnpike Stadium in 1972.

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About ToddT

I enjoy baseball and writing about it. I pay to see independent league play, the Fort Worth Cats and the Grand Prairie AirHogs, and I follow the Texas Rangers rather passionately. A native of the Dallas area, I am nearing 60 years old, and I have been married to my college sweetheart for 36 years and counting.
  • Thanks for the comments, Phi. The clubhouse gets more interesting every year. It seems to get stronger with every acquisition. Darvish has a good chance to make it here. Washington and Maddux, I believe, are good for young pitchers.

  • Phi Nguyen

    Good read, Todd. I am as excited as anyone else about Darvish. Darvish will probably receive similar money to Matsuzaka because of all the similarity to Dice-K, hopefully with better success.

    As for the culture shock, the Ranger seems to have been preparing for this as they have two Japanese pitcher on the staff in Yoshinori Tateyama and Koji Uehara. Plus, Tateyama was one of Darvish’s teammate in Japan.

    I enjoy reading your thoughts.

  • Charlie, thanks for adding the parenthetical to my article. The $100 million number is what is being thrown around, but it does include the posting fee to Darvish’s team. I hear it so much that I think people assume this.

    On the point about the Dice-K comparison, Darvish’s numbers are only slightly higher. It’s a big gamble. Thanks for commenting.

  • Thanks Todd! As far as the Rangers “expected” offer to Darvish is concerned, I hope they (and every other MLB team) has learned a lesson from afar from my Red Sox’s experience with the last major phenom to come out of Japan, Daisuke Matsuzaka. and don’t go for broke on this guy.

    Darvish will experience a major culture shock, not to mention deep lineups in the AL that he’s never faced in Japan. Six years at $100-125 million? You’ve got to be kidding me! Dice-K got $52 million over six years (after the Sox posted a $50M fee just to get the rights to negotiate with him), and he was only good for two seasons (and is now in the last year of his contract).

    I hope Daniels can talk some sense into Darvish and his agents (Don Nomura and Arn Tellem) and show them the Dice-K deal. Darvish should get a little more money than Dice-K, but an average of at least $16-$20M per year? No way Jose (as they say).

  • Good to have you here, Martin. Blogcritics is where I’m spending most of my blogging time. We have great editors and fact-checkers here, especially in the sports area with Charlie Doherty, and it’s a pleasure to write for them

  • Martin Guerra

    Well written, Todd. Why am I just discovering this blog of yours? I’m glad to share it with my baseball buddies.

  • Mark, I’m not sure if the locals can handle this kid on the social scene. We’re already having to make room for one of the Kardashians who moved here with Lamar Odom. You and I are going into culture shock, and we’ve lived here all our lives.

    Thanks for commenting, MB.

  • Mark Bickham…

    damn it….Im all in on this one…usually the pitchers are middle aged coming from Japan..and throw junk…this kid throws low to mid 90’s…and they swear he has 7 pitches he throws for strikes…ok…they got me…Im interested this time!!!!!!!