ARLINGTON -- Yu Darvish is undertaking the journey from Japan to the U.S. with the intention of helping the Rangers achieve their goal of winning a World Series championship.That is one of the reasons why he is coming to Texas and why the Rangers are willing to invest approximately $112 million in the 25-year-old right-hander, who has spent the past seven years pitching for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan's Pacific League.
In the end it's all about winning, and that's why the Rangers worked so hard to bring negotiations to a successful conclusion before Wednesday's 4 p.m. CT deadline. Darvish is to be introduced at a news conference Friday at 7 p.m. CT. It can be seen live on MLB.com and texasrangers.com."This was a step-out deal," general manager Jon Daniels said. "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." Darvish, a two-time Pacific League Most Valuable Player, agreed to a six-year, $60 million deal. The agreement came 30 days after the Rangers won the negotiating rights to him with a $51.7 million posting bid that goes directly to the Nippon Ham Fighters. Darvish is guaranteed $54 million, with another $4 million possible in roster bonuses. There are other escalating clauses that raise the value of the contract, which he can opt out of after the fifth year depending on whether he wins or places high in the Cy Young Award voting. A news conference at the Ballpark is planned for Friday, as Darvish is still in Japan.
The Rangers spent the past two years both scouting Darvish and developing a personal relationship with him. They also spent countless hours talking to as many people as possible to get a better feel as to how he would make the transition to the U.S."Our scouts did an unbelievable job," Daniels said. "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." Daniels traveled to Japan to see Darvish pitch this season, but he was just one of 12 from the organization who watched Darvish in action in 2011. The Rangers' commitment allowed them to make a successful sales pitch to both their own ownership group and to Darvish. That, in turn, allowed the negotiations to go smoothly, even though there were some points on Wednesday when things did not look as optimistic as they did at other times. Agents Don Nomura and Arn Tellem both said that Darvish was hoping the Rangers would win negotiating rights when he asked to be posted earlier this winter. "The Rangers, more so than any other club, showed not only a scouting interest in Yu but also really developed a relationship with him," Tellem said. "There was an intimate connection between Yu, his family and the Rangers organization that was a positive going forward. It's also a great team that is intent on taking the next step, and with Yu, hopefully they can achieve that goal. Yu is excited about helping them get there." Darvish went 18-6 with a 1.44 ERA in 28 games and 232 innings for the Fighters last year. It was his fifth straight season with an ERA under 2.00, and his 276 strikeouts were the highest by a Japanese pitcher since Hideo Nomo recorded that many in 1993. Over the past five seasons, Darvish is 76-28 with a 1.72 ERA in 1,024 innings. He struck out 1,083 and walked 221 while holding opponents to a .192 batting average. He twice led the Pacific League in ERA and in 2007 won the Eiji Sawamura Award, given to the top pitcher in Japan. He has all the credentials to be a No. 1 starter, although the Rangers aren't ready to bestow that status on him. "He certainly has the potential to be that, but it's not fair to say that I see him as a No. 1 starter," Rangers president Nolan Ryan said. "I don't want to put that type of pressure on him. "We're very excited about having him join us. He's extremely talented, one of the most talented young pitchers we've seen. We feel he has a bright future ahead of him. What that will equal to, we don't know. Once he gets settled in and gets rolling, we'll see what he is capable of doing." Darvish replaces C.J. Wilson in the Rangers' overall pitching scheme. Wilson, 31, was the Opening Day starter last season and won 31 games for Texas the past two years but ended up signing a $77.5 million contract with the Angels.
The Rangers made a much more sizable financial investment in Darvish."I don't want to compare Yu to anyone," Daniels said. "But the total package, we felt it was worth it. We felt he was a 25-year-old pitcher who had already established his credentials but also has tremendous upside. You don't have a chance to get that kind of opportunity very often, so we acted on it."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.