Yu Darvish is coming to Texas. At least the Rangers are the only MLB team he can play for next season.
MLB announced late Monday night that the Rangers won the negotiating rights for the star Japanese right-hander. Yahoo! Sports reported the bid to be a record $51.7 million.
Now, Texas has a 30-day window to negotiate a contract with the 25-year-old Darvish. If a deal can’t be reached, the Rangers will not pay the posting fee.
“Very exciting night,” Texas general manager Jon Daniels said. “For our organization, our fans, our community, this is the first step in the process, but it’s an important one. We hope that it will end by signing Darvish to a contract.”
Daniels credited the ownership group, led by Bob Simpson, Ray Davis and Nolan Ryan, as critical in supporting the team’s desire to land Darvish.
The Rangers were visibly high on Darvish all of last season, sending several key members of the front office, including Daniels, to watch him in Japan. Daniels said the team has been scouting Darvish for three years, and was well aware of his talent.
“We’ve got a lot of great scouts,” Daniels said. “I did see him pitch [in Japan], but that wasn’t the only thing. I hadn’t been over there before, things of that nature. And we knew this was something we might get involved with.”
Darvish, a 6-foot-5, 215-pounder, throws a 92-95 mph fastball, and went 18-6 with a 1.44 ERA last season. He had 276 strikeouts and issued 36 walks in 232 innings. In Japan, Darvish won three strikeout titles and two ERA titles.
He is the third Japanese-born pitcher on the Rangers, joining relievers Koji Uehara and Yoshinori Tateyama.
Darvish will join a rotation that lost last year’s ace, C.J. Wilson, to the Angels. Closer Neftali Feliz is also set to join the rotation. Colby Lewis, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison and Alexi Ogando are all set to return, although one could be traded or moved to the bullpen.
Daniels wouldn’t speculate on how the Darvish signing affected the current rotation because the team hadn’t signed him yet.
“Obviously we’re hopeful we can sign Darvish,” Daniels said. “At that point, we’ll have a very good problem on our hands. We’ll sort through our options when we need to.”
The Rangers didn’t make a strong effort to sign Wilson this offseason, seeing him land with the Angels for a five-year, $77.5 million contract. That will likely be significantly less than the total package for Darvish.
Asked about why Darvish over Wilson, Daniels reiterated that the club had yet to sign the player. Daniels also declined to give his own scouting report on Darvish.
Daniels and the Rangers will now begin negotiations with Darvish’s representatives, Arn Tellem and Don Nomura.
“We were pleased to learn that the Texas Rangers were the high bidders for Yu Darvish,” Tellem said in a statement. “The Rangers are an extraordinary franchise in an exceptional city with equally exceptional fans. Yu is honored to be prized so highly and recognized as a once-in-a-generation pitcher. We look forward to getting negotiations under way.”
Prior to the Rangers bid, the Boston Red Sox set a record posting bid of $51,111,111 in 2006 to secure the negotiating rights for Daisuke Matsuzaka. Boston then handed Matsuzaka a six-year, $52 million contract to push the total amount to more than $100 million.
-- Drew Davison