Yu Darvish Getting Comfortable In Rangers Camp

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FanGraphs: On Yu Darvish's Debut

Rangers starter Yu Darvish made his inter-squad debut Wednesday afternoon. He didn't throw much, but he spun a pair of shutout innings against the Padres, whiffing three and allowing two doubles. FanGraphs' Eno Sarris has more on how he looked:

He showed his looping curve, if only once. He showed both sliders — one a more slurvy pitch, and the other tighter. His fastball had two or three distinct looks, even if the announcer pointed out that if you ask a catcher, "they’re all fastballs — you only put one finger down for any of em." The ball dipped, dived and darted — in both directions. He’s not likely to have platoon issues.

Pretty rosy, huh? Lots of people have lots of good things to say about Darvish's debut. He missed an awful lot of bats. Thankfully, there's Negative Internet Commenter to harsh any Darvish buzz you might have had going:

John says:

I don’t like his wrist action.

We’ll see how the elbow holds up.

Sure, Darvish is great - now - but, that wrist action, I tell you. Gotta remember to listen to John.


Yu Darvish Debuts, Is Good

Yu Darvish pitched two innings against the San Diego Padres on Wednesday. They were two good innings.


Hardball Times: Why Oliver Loves Yu (Darvish)

In case you're unfamiliar with it, Oliver is the name of The Hardball Times' player projection system. You know about player projection systems. There's Oliver, and PECOTA, and ZiPS, and Marcel, and...

Player projection systems are used to try to project players. Wow! And, understandably, a player many people have tried to project over this past offseason is Yu Darvish. Yu Darvish is a big money starting pitcher coming over from Japan and joining the Rangers' rotation. How is Darvish going to do? Please, somebody tell us, how is Darvish going to do?

Projection systems love Yu Darvish. Oliver certainly loves Yu Darvish. Which is what this article is about. Here, we have Brian Cartwright trying to figure out Darvish's best projection, using Oliver. Cartwright takes a very thorough approach. Towards the end:

Examining several sets of comparable pitchers shows an expected ERA for Darvish anywhere from 2.78 to 3.40, which is from excellent down to merely very good, but no recent major league pitchers have the combination of Darvish's expected home runs, walks and strikeouts. Looking at those comparables and Darvish’s pitch metrics give me a personal opinion: I would compare him to Felix Hernandez with more strikeouts or Ubaldo Jimenez with fewer walks.

Felix Hernandez with more strikeouts or Ubaldo Jimenez with fewer walks. Darvish sounds like the perfect pitcher.

Now, ultimately, all Darvish projections at the moment are built around Darvish's statistical performance in Japan. There's no alternative. Projections have to use those numbers, because there aren't any other numbers. And we have a lot of questions about statistics put up in Japan. They don't always translate well, and they don't always translate as you'd expect. One also notes that the Japanese leagues had a very pitcher-friendly 2011, as offense was reduced by a significant degree. There are issues, introducing a lot of volatility to projections.

But what we know about Yu Darvish is pretty much all good. He's young. He has excellent stuff. He has solid command. He realistically could not have posted better numbers in Japan than he did. Yu Darvish might not succeed in the States, but all the evidence we have so far suggests that Yu Darvish should succeed in the States. Of course Oliver and other projection systems love Yu Darvish. There isn't much not to love.


Yu Darvish Contract Details Revealed

Earlier this week, the Texas Rangers signed Japanese righthander Yu Darvish to a six-year contract worth $60 million.

So that’s $10 million a year, right?

Well… on average, yes. But according to Jeff Wilson of the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, it’s backloaded this way:

2012: $5.5 million
2013: $9.5 million
2014: $10 million
2015: $10 million
2016: $10 million
2017: $11 million

You’ll note those figures add up to $56 million. There’s also $4 million in the form of “roster bonuses”, according to Wilson, and according to ESPN Dallas, Darvish can opt out after five years:

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said Thursday morning on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM that Darvish can opt out of the sixth year if he hits two different performance thresholds. Both involve the Cy Young voting.

Daniels said if Darvish wins the Cy Young and finishes in the “top three or four” of the balloting a second time in the five years, he can opt out of the sixth year of the contract. He can also get out of it if he finishes second in the balloting and then in the top three or four in two additional years.

Darvish will be formally introduced as a Texas Ranger at a news conference at 7 p.m. CST Friday night, according to a tweet from Jeff Wilson.


Yu Darvish Won Nolan Ryan Over With Steak

Nolan Ryan is an important member of the Texas Rangers organization. The way Randy Galloway tells it, Ryan didn't want to give C.J. Wilson the money he wanted. He didn't want to give Cliff Lee the money he wanted. Too expensive. Too much risk. But the Rangers just invested a ton of money in Yu Darvish. Yu Darvish, who has never thrown a single pitch in the major leagues. Ryan's on board. Why?


In a get-to-know-you dinner at Del Frisco's, Ryan ordered his usual filet. And Yu Darvish?

"The kid had the onion rings, followed by lobster," said Ryan. "Then when his steak came out, that thing was so big Secretariat couldn't have jumped over it. Pretty dang impressive."

Nolan now feels "good" about committing six years and a total of $108 million to the unknown?

What happened?

The steak at Del Frisco's in downtown Fort Worth happened.

It sounds completely absurd, but there you are. It's not my idea. It's Randy Galloway's. Randy Galloway is a print journalist. Besides, Darvish wouldn't be the first player this offseason to influence a high-ranking executive by doing something completely unrelated to baseball.

Long on the fence, Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio finally caved and signed off on Aramis Ramirez when the veteran third baseman offered to pick up the check after a meeting at an area bistro.

It wasn't about the numbers. Ask Terry Ryan, and it's never about the numbers. "Oh, the numbers are there, obviously," said Ryan. "But numbers are outcomes. What's important is the process. The person. We want to know what's driving those numbers."

Ryan said one morning watching Josh Willingham attempt to complete a crossword puzzle told him everything he needed to know about Willingham's determination.

"It's funny," recalls Colletti. "We were just talking on the phone, shooting the shit, and then I forgot the name of that one guy from Liberty Valance. AK knew it off the top of his head. That Kennedy's a good guy."

Although initially in favor, Peter Angelos' opinion of Prince Fielder soured when he found out Fielder was born in Ontario. Assurances that it was not the Ontario in Canada proved futile.


Yu Darvish: Making The Transition

Over at ESPN, Keith Law offered a scouting report on Yu Darvish, noting that among his offerings are ...

a shuuto that looks like a two-seamer in the low 90s or upper 80s, a hard slider/cutter, a softer slider, a splitter, a straight changeup and a slow curveball

Which of course makes me think about the Great Gyroball Mania of '07, which makes me think of gyros, which makes me hungry. Also, why aren't there breakfast gyros, with eggs, lamb, yogurt, et cetera? Someone's missing out on a gold mine.

Law's scouting report has a lot to say about the transition Darvish is going to have to make, both with his repertoire and his workload. It isn't unusual for a Japanese pitcher to have a half-dozen pitches in his arsenal, whereas most MLB pitchers focus on three or four, at most, and Law thinks Darvish will have to adapt.

Another person who notes that Darvish's transition isn't going to be seamless: his dad. From ESPN:

"You are talking about [a] different culture. It would be nice to give it a little time and don't judge things so fast. I know Yu will find his way.

The cultural transition is usually overlooked when Japanese players come over -- it's definitely overlooked when it comes to teenagers from Venezuela or the Dominican Republic playing their first season in the New York-Penn League, for sure -- and it's probably just as important as deciding what pitches to keep in a repertoire.


How Good Will Yu Darvish Be, Really?

Not many top Japanese starting pitchers have joined Major League Baseball while still in or near their primes. But maybe we get a handle on Yu Darvish's future by looking at his predecessors.


Yu Darvish Contract Includes Opt-Out Clause

Specific details of the Yu Darvish contract with the Texas Rangers have been a little hard to come by. We've heard that he's signed for six years, and we've heard that he's signed for about $60 million with another $10 million in possible bonuses, but beyond that, there hasn't been much.

This is something new, from Anthony Andro:

Yu Darvish can opt out of deal after five years.

Darvish was recently said to be seeking a five-year contract, while the Rangers were recently said to be seeking a six-year contract. The implication was that Darvish wanted to hit free agency sooner. Now it appears that Darvish has gotten his way, kind of. I don't know what the conditions are, or if there are any conditions, but there exists a way for Yu Darvish to make this a five-year deal instead of a six-year deal.

In the short term, it doesn't change anything. In the long term...well I don't really care much about the long term right now, so I'm not going to write about it.


Getting Blanked: Will Yu Darvish Be Worth It?

The Texas Rangers have committed something like $60 million to Yu Darvish over the next six years. They're also now on the hook for that $51.7 million posting fee. All told, the Rangers are pouring a lot of money into this thing, where by "this thing" I mean "this pitcher." I don't want to sound racist.

So now there are questions. How good will Yu Darvish be? Will Yu Darvish be worth the substantial investment? What does Yu Darvish think about ponies? Dustin Parkes at Getting Blanked tackles the first question, and then tackles the second question. I haven't seen anybody tackle the third question, which is weird. Guess I need to check out more equine blogs.

Parkes, towards the end:

Wins remain the only thing that brings bigger crowds to the ballpark.

So, yes, if everything goes well, Darvish will bring his share of those to Texas. However, it’s very possible that those wins could have been purchased with a far less costly investment than the one that has been made in Yu Darvish.

Read it all if you have the time. If you don't have the time, wow, you are really busy, you must be the president.


Baseball Prospectus: How Good Is Yu Darvish?

So Yu Darvish officially has a contract with the Texas Rangers. Finally. Yu Darvish was always going to end up with a contract with the Texas Rangers, but now we can put that whole matter behind us for good. What's left to do is to try to figure out just how good Yu Darvish is going to be.

Okay, so it's not the most original idea to pursue. I'm pretty sure every single baseball writer on the planet has pursued it at least once. But Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus pursued it in an original way. The article's behind a pay wall, but basically, Goldstein presented the names of a handful of right-handed starters to ten baseball officials one-by-one, and asked if they would prefer each starter or Darvish. For example, all ten baseball officials would prefer Darvish over Ricky Nolasco. Goldstein's conclusion?

For most insiders polled, the choke point for just how good Yu Darvish would be occurred somewhere between Matt Garza and Zack Greinke, although a majority still preferred the Japanese import. It's important to note that even the reservations about Darvish had little to do with his talent, and everything to do with the adjustments he'll need to make, from working on shorter rest than he has in Japan, to dealing with far more dangerous hitters, to a new strike zone.

The takeaway point: people expect Yu Darvish to be successful. Unqualified people and qualified people alike. I'll give you a few moments now to scrape your brain off the ceiling.


Projecting Yu Darvish

The Rangers have Yu Darvish under contract, but just how good will he be for Texas?


Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers Officially Reach Agreement

Through the posting process, the Texas Rangers won the rights to negotiate exclusively with Yu Darvish. They were then granted a 30-day window to settle on a contract. That window came with a deadline: Wednesday, January 18, at 5:00pm Eastern.

Prior to January 18, there was no contract. On January 18, there was concern that there would be no contract. But, officially, there is a contract. An agreement was reached right before the deadline. Because of course it was. There was really no other way that this was ever going to go.

Bob Nightengale:

The #Rangers make it official, six year deal for Darvish.

Jeff Wilson:

Rangers, Darvish agree for six years, approximately $60 million.

Additional reports put it at six years and $60 million, with another $10 million in possible bonuses. Darvish reportedly wanted a five-year contract so he could become a free agent sooner, but he clearly wasn't wedded to that idea.

So Darvish joins Colby Lewis, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, Neftali Feliz and Alexi Ogando as potential starters with the Rangers. Five of those players will begin the season as starters. It is a good group of starters, strengthened to a substantial degree by Darvish. In case you've forgotten, this is what Darvish has done:

2007 20 1.82 26 207.2 123 48 9 49 210 13 790 5.3 0.4 2.1 9.1 4.29
2008 21 1.88 24 200.2 136 44 11 44 208 9 764 6.1 0.5 2.0 9.3 4.73
2009 22 1.73 23 182.0 118 36 9 45 167 6 701 5.8 0.4 2.2 8.3 3.71
2010 23 1.78 25 202.0 158 48 5 47 222 7 805 7.0 0.2 2.1 9.9 4.72
2011 24 1.44 28 232.0 156 42 5 36 276 6 885 6.1 0.2 1.4 10.7 7.67
5 Seasons 1.72 126 1024.1 691 218 39 221 1083 41 3945 6.1 0.3 1.9 9.5 4.90

He should be really good. The Rangers should be really good.


Yu Darvish Is Probably Going To Sign With The Texas Rangers

Tuesday was the deadline for the Milwaukee Brewers to reach a contract agreement with posted Japanese outfielder Norichika Aoki. The Brewers and Aoki reached an agreement shortly before time was up.

Wednesday is the deadline for the Texas Rangers to reach a contract agreement with posted Japanese starting pitcher Yu Darvish. The Rangers and Darvish will almost certainly reach an agreement shortly before time is up.

From Jon Heyman:

Starting pitcher Yu Darvish will sign with the Texas Rangers before the 5:00 p.m. ET deadline, sources have told CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman. The deal is likely to be for six years, Heyman has also learned. The Rangers paid a reported $51.7 million simply for the right to negotiate with Darvish.

Obvious. This is all obvious. It was always going to happen this way. We don't yet know for how much Darvish will sign, but we knew he was going to sign, and that he was going to sign at the last possible moment. Leverage and everything.

Recently, Darvish was said to be seeking a five-year contract. Heyman says the Rangers are going to sign him to a six-year contract. Darvish wanted to reach free agency a little sooner, but evidently the Texa$ Ranger$ have found a mean$ of making him change hi$ mind.

Just what signing Darvish will do to the Rangers' status in the Prince Fielder sweepstakes, I can't be sure. So I don't know why I'm writing this.


Yu Darvish Deadline Day Approaching

The Texas Rangers have until 5:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday to sign Yu Darvish. They won the rights to negotiate with the Japanese superstar, and the rights gave them a month to negotiate exclusively with him. That month is up. From ESPN Dallas:

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels and members of his staff worked much of the night (after working much of the day) with Darvish's agents -- Arn Tellem and Don Nomura -- in an effort to get an agreement. But as of this morning, there is no agreement with some issues to still work out, though sources said the club still thinks a deal will get done before the deadline (though likely right up to that deadline).

In a lot of ways, this is reminiscent of the deadline to sign amateur draft picks every August. There's fretting. There's hand-wringing. There's a deadline. There are apocalyptic scenarios if a team can't sign its top pick. And when the deadline rolls around, the teams sign the pick at the last second. Every time.

Well, almost every time. About five to ten percent of the time, a team can't come to terms with their top draft pick. And that's the fear that Rangers fans are right to have. The Rangers are clearly smitten with Darvish, enough to outbid every other team for the right to negotiate with him. They want to get a deal done.

Darvish wants to get a deal done too. As one of the game's best pitchers, he wants to test himself at the game's highest levels. And even though a substantial chunk of the Rangers' payout will go to the Nippon Ham Fighters, he'll still get a contract close to, if not bigger, than what he'd receive in Japan. He was paid just over $6 million last year, for example.

So with everyone having the same ultimate goal, there should be a deal. But if something goes afoul, there will be dominoes that fall. Suddenly the Rangers will be on the open market with an extra $80 to $100 million (at least) to spend, and a first baseman that doesn't exactly baste their wings. The Prince Fielder market will explode. Roy Oswalt could have a new suitor. Things will get weird.

But Darvish will almost certainly be a Ranger by the end of Wednesday. Unless something weird happens. Which it can. Both scenarios are pretty entertaining to consider, actually.


Prince Fielder Could Be "Plan B" For The Texas Rangers

Earlier we had scuttlebutt and whispers about Prince Fielder's travel itinerary, with the free-agent first baseman meeting with the Texas Rangers, ostensibly to explore the possibility of Fielder hitting 832 home runs in Rangers Ballpark for the next few years.

Combined with a Yu Darvish contract, a Fielder move would be quite the forceful response to the Angels' free-agent duo of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson. Hold on, though. Fielder could be the Rangers' backup plan instead of another high-priced addition. From Jeff Wilson:

Source confirms #Rangers meeting with Prince Fielder, but suggests the first baseman is Plan B if Yu Darvish doesn't sign.

This would make a bit more sense -- that Fielder is more of a way for the Rangers to get negotiating leverage on Darvish than a serious interest in committing $250 million to two players this off season. But Fielder-to-the-Rangers makes a ton of sense, and Fielder gets something out of this too: more leverage in his negotiations with the Nationals and Mariners.

If such negotiations are going on. Which they might be. Or not. We'll just sit and wait for this stuff to resolve itself.


Rangers Optimistic That They'll Sign Yu Darvish Before Wednesday Deadline

The Texas Rangers bid $52.7 million just for the right to negotiate with Yu Darvish over the past month. But they didn't pay $52.7 million. Not yet. If they can't agree on a contract with Darvish before Wednesday, the Rangers will not have to pay the posting fee, and Darvish will head back to Japan.

Here's where it gets tricky: the Rangers are right to think that the $52.7 million they'll have to pay should be considered a part of their total Yu Darvish expenditure. And Darvish is right not to care. None of that money goes to him. It all goes to the Nippon Ham Fighters. So if the Rangers have designs on paying Darvish -- just to make up a number -- $75 million over five years, they'll have to offer him a five year, $22 million contract, which is less than what Darvish would receive in Japan. That won't work.

But ESPN Dallas says that the Rangers are confident that Darvish will sign. Nolan Ryan on (what will hopefully be) his new ace:

"My expectation is that we'll get something done," said Ryan prior to the Texas Rangers Award Show at the Arlington Convention Center on Thursday night. "It's a process, so during the period that we negotiate with someone, we really don't talk about it. I'm optimistic we'll get something done."

The part about the money going to Darvish's old team isn't a surprise. It's not like Darvish was rubbing his hands together, thinking about his new $100 million contract, before he stumbled upon his own Wikipedia page. He knew that he wasn't going to get what he'd command on a truly open market.

And, apropos of nothing, here's Ryan one more time:

"He was bigger than I thought," Ryan said. "He was built like a pitcher."

Which is certainly better than a credenza or a bookshelf. Never forget that Todd Coffey is built like a half-and-half carton, so it's probably a good thing that Darvish is built like a pitcher. If Ryan's happy, then the Rangers are happy. And if the Rangers are happy, that means that Darvish will sign soon.


The Yankees' Nothing Bid For Yu Darvish

The New York Yankees submitted a bid for Yu Darvish's exclusive negotiating rights. I'm just not entirely sure why.


Yu Darvish's Number To Be (Sort Of) Retired

From the indispensable NPB Tracker:

The other day, Sports Hochi reported that, in the event that he signs with the Rangers, the Nippon Ham Fighters will "semi-retire" Yu Darvish’s number 11. The number won’t be officially retired, but will remain unused until the team develops another "absolute, Darvish-caliber ace".

Reminder of what Darvish-caliber might mean: The right-hander didn't post an ERA over 2.00 in any of his last five seasons. So when the Fighters say they're just waiting for another Darvish-caliber pitcher to come around, that's like the Yankees saying they'll just hold on to that #3 uniform until they find someone worthy enough to wear it.

The NPB Tracker links to an original source that's in Japanese, so by Internet-law I'm required to post some of the idiosyncratic translations from Google.

Respect to the glorious triumph.

There were more, but that one kind of says it all. Darvish's number isn't just going to be handed out to someone like Micah Hoffpauir when he ambles over to Japan. That seems appropriate. Respect to the glorious triumph.


Yu Darvish Might Be In Texas, Or In Love, Or Something Else Lost In Translation

The Texas Rangers recently won the rights to negotiate with Japanese righthander Yu Darvish.

Now, according to this Japanese-language report, Darvish might either be in Texas or on his way there. Usually, Google Translate provides a good enough translation of foreign-language pages so that you can determine the gist. Not this time:

Finally began to move the Japanese ace. It was found that the Darvish was secretly 渡米. Several baseball officials “appeared on the day went to America,” testified.

I wanna testify! This part of the translation is even more confusing:

This time to 渡米 Farusa father’s (51) accompanied. In Arlington, Texas, home of the Rangers, he said that the main purpose of the city to experience the atmosphere. Check the surrounding environment and life, based in the stadium, “Rangers Ballpark in Arlington” It will also be visits. In addition to the terms of such transfer is financially, for the dull side was 下Shitai and comprehensive decisions in terms of teams and atmosphere, I just want to get valuable information before negotiations begin in earnest.

If I can be permitted to interpret this very loose translation, it appears that Darvish wants to check out the area and the ballpark and get every bit of information he can about the Rangers before beginning contract negotiations.

It appears that Nolan Ryan and Ron Washington will meet with Darvish during his visit (or have already done so), according to this paragraph.

However, the Army report, “sweetheart” We can not just keep quiet visits in addition to fingers will go. According to the stadium tour, Mr. President and owner Nolan Ryan (64) and Ron Washington (59) of visitors are expected. Advance to the World Series, while the second consecutive year, the world just a bit more reach. Expect to achieve as a messenger in Dar earnest desire, love calls only chance to send a direct surprise is likely.

“Sweetheart”? “Love calls”? “Earnest desire”? This reads like a romance novel, not a contract negotiation.

As ever, we await further developments, hopefully in English. (If anyone can better translate the original link, let us at Baseball Nation know.)


Six Degrees Of YouTube Roulette: YouDarvish

Welcome to another installment of Six Degrees of YouTube Roulette, where YouTube tells us what to watch after initially searching for something completely harmless.


Is Yu Darvish The New Dice-K?

There are some striking similarities between Daisuke Matsuzaka five years ago and Yu Darvish today. But there are some striking differences, too. Which must be heartening to the Texas Rangers, who are taking a big financial risk.


Reminder: Yu Darvish Is Really Good

There are 29 teams that didn't get Yu Darvish, and that means there are a lot of fans who are going with the sour-grapes method of processing that information. By law, fans are required to mention Daisuke Matsuzaka when disparaging Darvish. I mean, they totally came from the same country and everything.

Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus has a Q&A about Darvish up (it's for subscribers, which you should be), and he details what Rangers fans should expect:

He throws both a two- and four-seam fastball that he commands exceedingly well with good life down in the zone. He normally sits in the low- to mid-90s, with the occasional 96-97 mph reading for giggles, but on shorter rest, he's expected to sit more in the 90-95 range.

And if you needed to see for yourself -- or if you were in the mood for a wicked shredding guitar solo -- here's a video of Darvish doing Darvish things. Skip to 1:16 for some laughs:


If Yu Darvish Signs, Who Should The Rangers Bump?

With Yu Darvish possibly signing in Texas, just who is going to move in an already full rotation?


Yu Darvish, Liars, And A Necessary Reminder

A week ago, the Texas Rangers didn't have much in the way of financial flexibility. Now, they've won the rights to negotiate with Yu Darvish. There's probably something we can take away from this.


The Toronto Blue Jays, Yu Darvish, And Grapes That Probably Taste Bad

The Toronto Blue Jays and their fans were hoping for some huge Yu Darvish news. They didn't get it, but here's why that might not be such a bad thing.


Yu Darvish Scouting Report, From Lone Star Ball

The Texas Rangers have officially won the right to negotiate with Yu Darvish, so while that doesn't mean that Yu Darvish is guaranteed to be a Texas Ranger next season, it makes it pretty damn likely. It's hard to imagine things going wrong now - Yu Darvish isn't exactly Hisashi Iwakuma. You might remember what happened with Hisashi Iwakuma last offseason. You might not.

So now that Darvish is all but a Ranger, what does he bring to the table? Lone Star Ball offers a concise review:

Darvish throws a two seamer, four seamer, and a cut fastball, with the four seamer supposedly getting up to 95 mph. He also has a slider and a curveball, along with a changeup, although it is questionable whether his change will actually get much use in MLB, as it seems to be his sixth best pitch.

While we'll see where things go from here, the expectation is that Darvish will end up signing a contract similar to the one the Angels gave C.J. Wilson (not including the posting fee). The Rangers didn't match that offer, so if they go that high here, suffice to say it'll be pretty telling.


Report: Rangers Hold Rights To Yu Darvish After $51 Million Bid

After more than a month of speculation, with non-stop rumors flying back and forth, Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan is reporting that the Texas Rangers have won the bidding for Japanese right-hander Yu Darvish. From Passan:

The Texas Rangers won the rights to negotiate with star Japanese right-hander Yu Darvish by placing a record $51.7 million bid in a posting auction, sources told Yahoo! Sports.

The Rangers have exclusive negotiating rights with Darvish for 30 days, and will pay the Nippon Ham Fighters that $51.7 million if a contractual agreement is reached.

The amount bid by the Rangers breaks the previous posting-fee record, set by the Boston Red Sox when they bid $51.1 million for the rights to Daisuke Matsuzaka in 2006. After paying that posting fee, the Red Sox signed Matsuzaka to a six-year, $52 million contract.

Darvish has long been the top Japanese prospect, as he hasn't had an ERA over 2.00 in the NPB since 2006, when he was 19. His stats, via his Wikipedia page:

Nippon Professional Baseball
Year Age Team W L W% GS CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP league ERA
2005 18 Nippon-Ham 5 5 .500 14 2 1 94.1 97 37 37 7 48 52 3.53 1.54 4.06
2006 19 12 5 .706 24 3 2 149.2 128 55 48 12 64 115 2.89 1.28 3.62
2007 20 15 5 .750 26 12 3 207.2 123 48 42 9 49 210 1.82 0.83 3.57
2008 21 16 4 .800 24 10 2 200.2 136 44 42 11 44 208 1.88 0.90 3.90
2009 22 15 5 .750 23 8 2 182 118 36 35 9 45 167 1.73 0.90 4.03
2010 23 12 8 .600 25 10 2 202 158 48 40 5 47 222 1.78 1.01 3.94
2011 24 18 6 .750 28 10 6 232 156 42 37 5 36 276 1.44 0.83 2.95
Career 93 38 .710 164 55 18 1268.1 916 310 281 58 333 1259 1.99 0.98  

Darvish will present some interesting options for the Rangers, who already had five starters penciled into their rotation, even after the departure of C.J. Wilson. Alexi Ogando, Colby Lewis, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, and Neftali Feliz were scheduled to start, though it seems likely that Feliz will return to the bullpen if the Rangers don't make a trade.


Yu Darvish Sweepstakes Winner Might, Might Not Be Texas Rangers

We're approaching the time at which the Nippon-Ham Fighters will announce whether or not they've accepted the high bid for Yu Darvish, and which major league organization placed the high bid in the first place. People have been trying to figure out the high bidder since the posting window began. Hell, people have been trying to figure out the high bidder before that, which, okay. We still don't know, but that doesn't mean we can't try to! Here, Buster Olney tries to:

Most folks guessing/assuming Jays have won Darvish bidding. But just got off the phone with an AL exec who speculates smart $ is on Rangers.

How this has been interpreted:

  • The Texas Rangers might have placed the high bid for Yu Darvish

What this actually says:

  • Pretty much everybody but one guy I've talked to thinks the Toronto Blue Jays placed the high bid for Yu Darvish

Conclusion? We still don't know who placed the high bid for Yu Darvish. It's not a surprise that we're talking about the Rangers and the Blue Jays, since most people expected this to come down to the Rangers and the Blue Jays, but until the Fighters go public, one's free to wonder whether there's another team that very quietly got into the mix. I'm not saying that happened, but if it did, would we know? Are you sure? Though there's little benefit to being secretive anymore, this is probably the most secretive process in baseball, so there's always the potential for a shock.


Winner Of Yu Darvish Rights To Be Announced Tonight

One of the 30 major league teams submitted the winning bid for Japanese right-hander Yu Darvish. It was reported to be a huge bid, possibly one that trumped the $51 million the Red Sox paid for the rights to negotiate with Daisuke Matuszaka, and on Monday evening, we'll find out what team made it. From Jon Morosi:

Nippon-Ham Fighters expected to accept bid for Yu Darvish around 8-9 pm ET tonight. Timing ideal – it will be Tuesday morning in Japan.

The early indications are that the Rangers and Blue Jays are the last two possible winners after reporters eliminated the teams that reportedly didn't bid a substantial amount, and an early New York Post report had the Blue Jays as the rumored winner. But you know there's a GM wearing a jumpsuit covered in question marks sitting in a dark room right now, eagerly anticipating the announcement of the Mystery Team's winning bid.

No one asked me, but a combination of LeBron's "The Decision" and Gaki no Tsukai would have done some crazy ratings. Missed opportunity, Bristol. Missed opportunity.


Report: Cubs Not Likely To Win Yu Darvish Rights

The Chicago Cubs are projected to have a payroll around $106 million with their current roster, according to Baseball-Reference's payroll estimator, which would be a significant drop from the $125 million last season, and the $147 million they paid in 2010. So it would seem that they might have a little money to spend if a premium free agent catches their eye.

That premium free agent is most likely not Japanese right-hander Yu Darvish, though. From Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe:

They were supposed to be in on Yu Darvish (yes, but a major league source indicated they made a very low bid and have no illusions of winning the post), and now they’re supposed to be in on Prince Fielder.

Things could change, but as of this writing the Cubs were still in the mode of, let’s not spend until we’re ready to spend and right now we’re not ready to spend.

This would possibly mean that the Cubs are back in on Prince Fielder, after being out, before they were in, after that time they weren't interested. The Darvish derby seems to be between the Rangers and Blue Jays, according to reports.


Yu Darvish Posting Fee A New Record High, According To Report

Yu Darvish's posting fee is reportedly a record, topping the fee paid by the Boston Red Sox for the rights to negotiate with Daisuke Matsuzaka. The team who placed the winning bid on Darvish and the amount of the bid are not yet known, but a report on Saturday indicates it will be a record.

The report comes from Sports Illustrated:

Though the identity of the major league franchise that won exclusive negotiating rights to the 25-year-old right-hander has yet to be revealed, Japanese league officials say that the offer to Darvish's team, the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, is higher than the $40-48 million range that has been reported in the U.S. and Japan.

The Nippon Ham Fighters are still mulling whether to accept the posting fee, and have until Tuesday to do so. If the winning bid is accepted, Darvish and the team that made the claim would have 30 days to work out a contract


Report: Report On Blue Jays, Darvish Might Not Be Accurate

It’s definitely silly season when it comes to reports about top free agents. Earlier Friday, Grant Brisbee noted that the Cubs are supposedly the front-runners for Prince Fielder, except their new manager says the team hasn’t even talked to him.

Earlier today, I passed along a link to the New York Post report that the Blue Jays were the high bidder on Yu Darvish, possibly bidding as much as $50 million.

My report included a link to a tweet from Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and XM radio, which claimed to “cooberate” (he meant, of course, “corroborate”) the NY Post report.

However, clicking on the link to that specific tweet now gives you a page that says:

Sorry, that page doesn’t exist!

So Bowden deleted his tweet. Apparently.

All of this would tend to, um, corroborate my feeling that you can’t necessarily believe every breathless tweet or even major media report you see during the free-agent hunting season.

Instead, we have clearly reached silly season. Have a good weekend, and take tweets with as many grains of salt as you’d like.


Nationals Reportedly Did Not Submit A Bid On Yu Darvish

The Washington Nationals have spent most of the offseason looking for a starting pitcher they can put at the top of their rotation with Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann, but they lost out on both Mark Buehrle and C.J. Wilson. Based on their over-the-top contract to Jayson Werth, some thought that they would be favorites to do the same with a bid for Japanese right-hander Yu Darvish.

Well, I did anyway.

But it looks like the Nats didn't even want to play the game at all. From Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post:

Washington did not submit a posting bid, according to multiple people with knowledge, opting to stay on the sidelines of a sweepstakes that will cost whomever lands the Japanese superstar upwards of $100 million.

With the Nats supposedly out, and the Yankees making a modest bid, that seems to leave the Cubs, Rangers, and Blue Jays as likely destinations for Darvish. The New York Post earlier today reported that the Blue Jays had the winning bid for Darvish.


Report: Blue Jays Are High Bidder For Yu Darvish

We won’t know for certain until Tuesday, but the New York Post reports Friday morning that the Toronto Blue Jays are the high bidder for the services of Japanese star pitcher Yu Darvish:

Having made a posting bid above $40 million and possibly close to $50 million, the Blue Jays are the favorites to land the negotiating rights to Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish.

There is a belief the Cubs also made a large bid on the right-hander but a number hasn’t been attached to their bid.

The Yankees made a bid Wednesday night, but it’s not expected to top what the Blue Jays submitted. The Rangers are also believed to have bid.

According to several sources with knowledge of the situation, the Blue Jays’ made the monster bid on orders from owner Rogers Communications.

Take this with the usual grains of salt, especially considering this tweet:

multiple sources cooberating the NY Post Report that the Blue Jays won the bidding for Yu Darvish…they have until Tues to complete a deal
Dec 16 via webFavoriteRetweetReply

Well. First, Bowden misspelled “corroborating”. Second, the team doesn’t have “until Tuesday” to complete a deal; the deadline for Darvish’s Japanese club, the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, to decide to accept the bid, is Tuesday at 7 a.m. Japan time, according to the Japanese newspaper the Daily Yomiuri. 7 a.m. in Japan is 5 p.m. ET the previous day, so we should know for certain late Monday.

Presuming the Fighters accept the bid, the winning team then has 30 days to reach a contract agreement with Darvish; if that doesn’t happen, the winning team get its posting fee back and Darvish plays another year in Japan.

As always, we await developments.


Wezen-Ball: Writing About Japanese Baseball 30 Years Ago

Well, actually 31 years ago. But what’s a spare year among friends. And Larry “Wezen-Ball” Granillo is a friend who somehow knows just where and how to dig into baseball’s rich journalistic history. This time around, he’s been inspired by Yu Darvish to see what we thought about Japanese baseball players, before we knew how well they could play

It’s been over 15 years since Hideo Nomo treated us to his version of Fernando-mania and more than ten since Ichiro became only the second player ever to win the Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player awards in the same year. The success of others who have followed in Nomo’s and Ichiro’s footsteps has varied, but by now the NPB-to-MLB transition is commonplace, if not entirely predictable. Thirty years ago, however, it was a very different story.

For me, actually, the takeaway is that “walk-off home run” should be replaced, immediately and by fiat if necessary, by “sayanora home run”. But of course there’s plenty more.


Yu Darvish Posting Period Over, Winning Team To Be Announced Soon

The Yu Darvish derby is about to be winnowed down to a single team. The deadline to submit a bid to negotiate with the 25-year-old Japanese right-hander was Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. ET, and there's a trickle of information coming out. MLB Trade Rumors has a great collection of tweets and links from beat writers confirming who did or did not make a bid. And there are some obvious surprises:

There are all sorts of bombshells like those ones. But if there is a legitimate twist, it's that the Yankees were not believed to have bid very much. Though it's possible that a "modest bid" for the Yankees might be the $500 million that they just got around to getting out of the office vending machines, it seems like they are not leading the sweepstakes.

The Red Sox were another team that was linked to the possibility of a Darvish bid -- one of the stories that flew under the radar last season was how Boston's pitching collapsed in September. According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, though, the Sox did not make a bid on Darvish

The names that keep coming up are the Rangers and Blue Jays, with the Rangers looking to replace C.J. Wilson at the top of their rotation, and the Blue Jays looking to spend a little of that money they probably wished they had just thrown at Roy Halladay

Jeff Passan relays this quote about Darvish, suggesting that just because a team bids $50 million on the rights to negotiate with him, that doesn't mean that they can get away with a small contract offer:

"He’s got more leverage than any Japanese [player] I’ve seen," one executive said. "It’s not like with Hideki Matsui where he wanted to prove himself here. I don’t get that sense with Darvish. He can go back, make a ton of money and be perfectly happy. This isn’t his be-all, end-all."

That might be the most important quote in the article, but my favorite one is this:

"Some idiot is going to put in a crazy bid because they always do when there’s an elite Japanese player,"

I read that quote in Brian Sabean's voice, but your mileage may vary. But the indications are that there's a team that has put in a crazy bid, and while the Blue Jays and Rangers have been linked closely to Darvish, don't rule out the Nationals, who stunned the baseball world with their contract to Jayson Werth, and have been pursing pitching all offseason. The Cubs are also a deep-pocketed team, and Phil Rogers confirms that they also made a bid.

The Nippon Ham Fighters have another three days to decide on their bid, but Danny Knobler of CBS Sports notes that the Fighters were "very excited" by the bid amount, which means they'll likely take it. That would give the winning team 30 days to negotiate with Darvish under the Byzantine rules of the posting system

This is all quite exciting, but upon further inspection, if I had to choose one piece from the Nippon Ham Fighters to come over, it might be their former mascot, Fighty:

Fighty (retired): a bright pink pterodactyl whose head resembled a giant leg of ham and who sometimes rode a bicycle around the field.

That's not a mascot. That's poetry. Here's hoping that Darvish's performance in the majors is half as sublime.


MLB Free Agent Prediction: Yu Darvish

Yu Darvish is one of the most interesting players ever to come out of Japan. How much will teams pay just for the right to negotiate with him?


Yu Darvish To Be Posted Thursday

There are a handful of Japanese baseball players who have expressed interest in coming over to North America this offseason. The guy everybody has had their eyes on, though, is this young fellow named Yu Darvish, a 25-year-old starting pitcher with incredible statistics.

The question of whether or not Darvish would be posted has been among the offseason's biggest. A few days ago, we heard reports that Darvish would be posted after the winter meetings. However, there were also reports that he wouldn't be posted until January, and there were still other reports suggesting that he might not be posted at all.

But now we know. And now we know that Darvish will be posted on Thursday. That's coming straight from his agent, Don Nomura.

Nomura represented Hisashi Iwakuma a year ago in talks with the Oakland Athletics after the A's won the rights to negotiate with Iwakuma through the posting process. No contract was agreed to, and Iwakuma returned to Japan. That is not expected to happen this time around.

Here's the process: interested teams will have four business days to submit blind bids. Darvish's Japanese team, Nippon-Ham, will then have four business days to decide whether or not to accept the high bid. If they accept the bid, then the high bidder will enter a 30-day exclusive negotiating window with Darvish and his agent(s). If Darvish signs, Nippon-Ham receives the posting bid. If he does not, then the money is refunded.

The Texas Rangers have been talked about as a potential favorite to sign Darvish, and they'll be in the mix after missing out on C.J. Wilson and Mark Buehrle. They will not be without fierce competition.


Report: Yu Darvish To Be Posted

If you're a fan of a team that's interested in starting pitching, most of the Winter Meetings brouhaha has centered around Mark Buehrle and C.J. Wilson. But a challenger appears! According to a report from Nikkan Sports (via @DaigoFuji), Yu Darvish is interested in coming over from Japan.

The 25-year-old Darvish has been one of Japan's top pitchers since he was 18, and he hasn't had an ERA over 2.00 since 2006. This is even more impressive when you consider that the average NPB ballpark is about 200 ft. to the power alleys. Darvish's stats, via his Wikipedia page.

Nippon Professional Baseball
Year Age Team W L W% GS CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP league ERA
2005 18 Nippon Ham 5 5 .500 14 2 1 94.1 97 37 37 7 48 52 3.53 1.54 4.06
2006 19 12 5 .706 24 3 2 149.2 128 55 48 12 64 115 2.89 1.28 3.62
2007 20 15 5 .750 26 12 3 207.2 123 48 42 9 49 210 1.82 0.83 3.57
2008 21 16 4 .800 24 10 2 200.2 136 44 42 11 44 208 1.88 0.90 3.90
2009 22 15 5 .750 23 8 2 182 118 36 35 9 45 167 1.73 0.90 4.03
2010 23 12 8 .600 25 10 2 202 158 48 40 5 47 222 1.78 1.01 3.94
2011 24 18 6 .750 28 10 6 232 156 42 37 5 36 276 1.44 0.83 2.95
Career 93 38 .710 164 55 18 1268.1 916 310 281 58 333 1259 1.99 0.98  

It's not exactly like those stats would just translate right over, but it's worth noting that his numbers -- especially the low walks total -- are superior to the stats that Daisuke Matsuzaka turned into six years and $52 million after the Boston Red Sox paid $51 million just for negotiating rights. 

Teams interested in Darvish will have to submit a bid to his current team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, and the highest bid will get the right to negotiate a contract with him. There's a chance that the Matsuzaka experiment will scare teams into a reasonable contract and posting fee, but there's also a better chance that Darvish will get a huge contract from a team. Dude's good. 


Yu Darvish To Be Posted Soon, Later, Or Not At All

The Yu Darvish saga remains ongoing, as the coveted could-be Japanese import mulls his options. Darvish, if he were available, would instantly become one of the most sought-after starting pitchers on the market. When will Darvish become available? Will Darvish become available at all? These are the pressing questions.

And you'll get a different answer, depending on who you talk to. Via Ken Rosenthal:

Two sources with knowledge of the situation told FOXSports.com on Saturday that Darvish is likely to be posted after the winter meetings

But Darvish’s father, Farsad, told the Japanese news service Sponichi that the pitcher’s decision might not come until mid- to late-January, a time frame that could limit his appeal only to the wealthiest major league clubs.

Farsad Darvish also said that Yu currently is 50-50 with his decision

So Yu Darvish could be posted (A) very soon, (B) sometime next month, or (C) never. This is a tough one to figure out. It seems to be more likely than not that Darvish will be posted, but then it's the timing that's the issue. If Darvish isn't posted until January, he would have fewer suitors than he would if he were posted sooner, limiting his options and potentially driving up his posting fee. If that matters.

If Darvish is posted, Buster Olney says the Texas Rangers look like the favorites to get him. Getting him, however, would not be easy, as the Rangers would face a lot of competition from big spenders. And the Rangers could sign Mark Buehrle or C.J. Wilson instead.

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