With the Texas Rangers letting free agent ace CJ Wilson leave for division rival Anaheim, rumors are swirling that they have targeted Japanese free agent pitcher Yu Darvish.
Darvish, a 25-year old right-hander, has dominated the Nippon Baseball League, putting up better numbers than Daisuke Matsuzaka did. In the last two seasons, he's allowed 314 hits and thrown 498 strikeouts to only 83 walks in 434 innings.
However, Matsuzaka's struggles in America have made many leery of Darvish. The Boston Red Sox posted $51.1 million to win exclusive bidding rights to sign Matsuzaka and then gave him a six-year $52 million contract.
That nine-figure investment has yielded a 49-30 record with a 4.25 ERA over 622 innings since 2007.
Darvish, at 6'5 215, is a much bigger pitcher than Matsuzaka (6'0 185), but there are questions about how he will hold up in MLB, especially considering how many innings he's thrown in Japan at such a young age.
In recent weeks, the Rangers, long considered one of the front-runners for Darvish, have been signalling a lack of interest, but according to a report from Yahoo! Sports writer Jeff Passan, many rival executives aren't buying:
The Texas Rangers, for example, have told rivals they’re cash-poor this offseason. A TV deal that will net them $80 million annually doesn’t kick in until 2015. The purchase price of the team for the ownership group – jacked up in an auction by Mark Cuban – wound up tens of millions of dollars higher than expected and sucked up the $90 million signing bonus Fox Sports delivered. And the TV contract itself wasn’t nearly as lucrative as Chuck Greenberg, the club’s deposed CEO, purported it to be.
To which one GM said: "Yeah, right."
And another executive said: "They’re sandbagging."
The posting process encourages deception, as teams have to submit blind bids to Darvish's NBL team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, with the highest bidder receiving a 30-day negotiating window with the star.
However, there's no guarantee Darvish comes over, and if he doesn't, all that money is lost.
Within baseball, estimates for the winning fee have ranged between $30-$70 million, with the Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays seen as the front-runners. However, it's always possible for a big market team to come swoop in at the last minute and blow everyone else away.
The posting process ends at 4PM Wednesday.