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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Yu Darvish Signs With the Rangers

Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
The Rangers hope Yu Darvish puts them over the top.
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With only minutes to spare before an irrevocable deadline, the Rangers and Darvish agreed to a six-year contract on Wednesday, allowing Texas to add probably the most talented pitcher outside of Major League Baseball.
A superstar in his home country, Darvish, 24, was the most highly scouted and sought-after pitcher in Japan over the past several years, with an electrifying fastball and a fiery personality to match.
The Rangers, in need of an ace after Lee and Wilson left in free agency the last two years, had been planning to acquire Darvish for months and finally completed the last step Wednesday.
Texas won the right to sign Darvish with a $51.7 million posting bid in December and had 30 days to agree to a contract. If the sides had not agreed by 5 p.m. Wednesday, Darvish would have had to return to Japan to pitch.
Darvish’s agent, the California-based Arn Tellem, had been working around the clock in meetings in Texas with Rangers General Manager Jon Daniels to secure a deal.
At 6 feet 5 and 190 pounds, Darvish does not fit the physical mold of most of the previous Japanese pitchers who have come to Major League Baseball. His outward expressions of competitive zeal — fist pumps and other mound histrionics — also set him apart from many of his predecessors.
Not since the Red Sox spent a little over $100 million to acquire Daisuke Matsuzaka before the 2007 season has there been this much anticipation and expenditure for a Japanese pitcher.
The Matsuzaka experience has been a combination of success, disappointment, injury and frustration for both Matsuzaka and the Red Sox, but Texas feels that Darvish’s stuff and his temperament are better suited for Major League Baseball.
Darvish was 18-6 with a 1.44 earned run average last season. Over seven seasons, he was 93-28 with a 1.99 E.R.A. and has not had an E.R.A. over 1.88 since he was 19.
He in effect replaces Wilson, who left the Rangers after the World Series to join the Los Angeles Angels as a free agent. A year earlier, Lee signed with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Darvish joins a rotation that already includes Derek Holland; Matt Harrison; Neftali Feliz, who had been the Rangers’ closer; and Colby Lewis or Alexi Ogando.
With the two sides coming to agreement on the contract, the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, Darvish’s team in Japan, will receive the $51.7 million posting fee. When Matsuzaka joined the Red Sox in 2007, his old team, the Seibu Lions, used the $51 million posting fee to acquire new players and refurbish its old stadium, once it had substantial taxes on the income.

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