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.
Reportedly, 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.
Free 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.
The 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.