words // Brennan Hiro Williams
Tonight we learned that the Texas Rangers won the right to negotiate with Japanese superstar pitcher Yu Darvish, placing a record $51.7 million bid on the posted player.
For those out of the loop, Yu Darvish has established himself over the past seven years as the best baseball player outside of the MLB. The half-Japanese, half-Iranian phenom took the Nippon Pro Baseball league (NPB) by storm in 2006, leading the Nippon Ham Fighters to a Japan Series title under then-manager Trey Hillman. Darvish was two years removed from high school.
Darvish’s 2011 campaign resulted in a jaw-dropping 276/36 K/BB ratio, 18 wins — 10 coming by complete game with 6 shutouts — and a 0.83 WHIP in 232 innings. The 25-year-old hurler will leave the NPB with a Japan Series title, two gold medals (Olympic and WBC) and two MVP awards under his belt.
An athletic 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, with an expansive repertoire and an aggressive approach on the mound, Darvish is well-suited for the American game. The question now is if he will be able to help the Texas Rangers get over the hump. The team has lost in back-to-back World Series, lacking, appropriately enough, the elite pitching to compete when it counts the most. The addition of Darvish could be game-changing.
The Rangers now have 30 days to work out a contract with Darvish. Adding Yu to a rotation with a reconverted Neftali Feliz and a surging Derek Holland has scary potential – all are 25 and under. If a deal cannot be worked out, Darvish will return to the Fighters in 2012.
Photos via Y! Sports.
Darvish delivers to the plate in Nike Baseball cleats at the 2009 WBC.
Derek Holland had a great 2011 World Series, pitching in Under Armour cleats.
Neftali Feliz, wearing 3N2, will make the full-time switch from closer to starter in 2012.