After a long wait, the Texas Rangers made it official on Wednesday, signing Japan’s best pitcher, Yu Darvish, to a six-year deal for $60 million. Darvish’s former team, the Nippon Ham Fighters received a $51.7 million fee from the Rangers to have the rights to negotiate a contract with their pitcher.
On the baseball field, Darvish has won almost three times more games than he has lost, and he has an ERA of under 2.00. He has a wide range of pitches that he throws successfully, and a fastball in the upper 90s.
Rangers Pitching Staff
The Rangers will now have a starting rotation that could be one of the best in the major leagues for next season. With Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland, Neftali Feliz, and now, Yu Darvish, the oldest of the five is Lewis at age 31. The others are age 26, 25, 23, and 25, respectively.
With pitching coach Mike Maddux, and now with his brother, Greg Maddux, a long-standing icon in recent pitching history in the major leagues, training the young pitchers on the Rangers staff, this corps of young talent have the Rangers foaming at the mouth, ready for baseball to start.
Darvish will have some adjustments to make in facing the best hitters in the world, but many scouts and former coaches who have seen him play expect him to meet the expectations the Rangers have for him. The Rangers themselves have scouted Darvish for two years, and reportedly, 12 different Rangers coaches and scouts traveled to Japan over the two-year period to watch him pitch and to establish a personal relationship with Darvish and his family.
When asked about the six-year deal, an unusual position for the Rangers management to accept, general manager Jon Daniels said that Darvish’s age made the six years worth the risk. Believing he will pay for himself in the first couple of years, the Rangers think they have committed good money that will return to them a continuation of the postseason success of the past two years.
Dallas, Times Are A-Changin’
Darvish is expected to take Dallas by storm. In Japan, though he seems shy, Darvish is a cult hero. At 6’5” tall, he is an imposing figure on the mound, and he has the good looks that will make him an instant media craze in American baseball cities. It is hard to remember a time when Dallas had so much buzz as it has had in the past few months.
The Japanese press corps turned up in Arlington for the announcement, numbering in the hundreds. Some of the Darvish entourage commented in the press conference that Rangers fans can expect this kind of press coverage from Japan for as long as Darvish plays. His popularity is immense.
The Rangers have made no secret of the fact that they are building their team around pitching, one season at a time. The hitting is good, and with rare exception, it always has been.
The missing piece, as team minority owner Nolan Ryan, a Hall of Famer himself knows, has always been pitching. Rangers fans have always had to deal with an either/or situation when it comes to hitting/pitching. For the next few years, it looks like we may have both.