It took all of 30 days, a $51.7 million posting bid, and a six-year $60 million contract to finally lock up Yu Darvish. That was the total cost of the Texas Rangers to get the 25-year old pitcher from Japan.
The Rangers had until 5 PM EST on Wednesday to work up a deal with Darvish, who agreed to the six-year deal just minutes before that deadline. The Nippon Ham Fighters will receive the $51.7 million from the Rangers.
Darvish had spent the past seven years playing for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan’s Pacific League, but the Rangers had sent scouts overseas for the past couple of years to develop a relationship with him. Even General Manager Jon Daniels made the trip to Japan to see Darvish pitch this past season.
“This was a step-out deal,” said Jon Daniels. “This is a major investment in a player who we feel can get us back to the World Series and help us win it. Our ownership really stepped up, and our scouts did as thorough of a job with their homework as you possibly can.
“We look at this as a perfect fit for us. We’re bringing in a player who we feel has proven himself on the big stage. It’s all about winning, and we’re bringing in a guy with a big arm, competitiveness and a work ethic that works well for what we are trying to do.
“Our scouts did an unbelievable job. It was more than just sitting behind home plate with a radar gun. Our guys really did their homework. We felt good about the process. In talking to everybody who knew him, we’re getting a guy with a tremendous work ethic and conditioning, who is committed to his craft and wants to succeed on the big stage.”
Darvish, who has the option to opt out of his contract after five years, is guaranteed $54 million. However, Rangers manager Ron Washington isn’t ready to name Darvish as the Number One starter for Texas. In fact, Washington has already decided that Colby Lewis, who used to pitch for the Hiroshima Carp, will start on Opening Day for the Rangers. Lewis, however, believes that Darvish will succeed in the major leagues.
“If you’re able to throw strikes, pound the strike zone and get guys out, it doesn’t matter what league you play in,” said Lewis. “If you can command the fastball and do what you need to do to get guys out, you can have success here too.
“He has overpowering stuff, especially in that league over there. The big thing that stood out to me was his fastball command. If he can do that here, he’ll have success.”
Darvish had visited Texas in early January where he was warmly welcomed by the Rangers organization; he also met current members of the team like Josh Hamilton and Ian Kinsler. Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux also treated Darvish to dinner.
“The biggest impression I got, or the most surprising thing that I saw, was how big he is,” said Maddux. “He’s big.”
Darvish will have a press conference in Arlington on Friday.