Griffin: Darvish contract bid rights awarded to Rangers
The Jays may or may not have been surprised, but their fans are stunned. One day in advance of a mandated deadline of Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. as outlined in the posting agreement between MLB and Japanese professional baseball, the Hakkaido Nippon Ham Fighters ended five days of wild speculation surrounding star righthander Yu Darvish. The Fighters announced that they have accepted Texas's winning bid, which according to Yahoo.comis $51.7 million for a 30-day window to negotiate a free agent deal with Darvish. The Fighters knew the amount, but on Monday were told the winning team.
This now allows the Rangers' GM Jon Daniels to negotiate exclusively with agents Don Nomura and Arn Tellem for a multi-year free-agent contract with the 25-year-old Darvish. Back in August, Daniels and Jays' GM Alex Anthopoulos each made the trip to Japan to see Darvish pitch in person, leading to speculation that the Jays and Rangers were the front-runners in the process.
The Rangers' negotiationg window expires on January 19. The dollar amount, submitted in a sealed bid to the MLB offices in New York last Wednesday, will be paid to the Fighters only if Texas successfully reaches agreement on a new major-league contract with the star Japanese hurler.
Darvish was 18-6, with a 1.44 ERA in 2011. The 6-5 righthander, armed with a repertoire of an estimated seven major-league ready pitches, allowed 156 hits in 232 innings, with 36 walks and 276 strikeouts. The 2011 strikeout total was the highest in the league in 19 years. Yu's career ERA in five-plus seasons in Japan is 1.99, with two Sawamura Awards, the equivalent of MLB's Cy Young. He made his debut for the Fighters on June 16, 2005 with eight shutout innings.
The Rangers' winning bid is the highest ever posted for a Japanese player's rights by a major-league team, eclipsing the $51.11 million bid sent in by the Boston Red Sox for the 25-year-old Seibu Lions righthandser, Daisuke Matsuzaka on November 6, 2006. On December 6, 2006, the Red Sox signed Dice-K to a six year contract for $52 million. The second highest posting bid came for pitcher Kei Igawa, $26.1 million by the Yankees less than a month after Dice-K's bid.
There has been speculation that Darvish will be seeking a five-year contract for around $75 million, allowing him to sign a second more lucrative deal down the road when he is just 31-years-old. Free agent lefthander C.J. Wilson, the Rangers' starting ace in 2011, earlier in December agreed to terms of a five-year, $77 million deal with the Angels. Darvish has never pitched a major-league inning and would be considered a rookie in 2012. The Rangers are twice defending AL champions.