Yu Darvish, Ichiro and the Top 5 Bids for Japanese Players
In the middle of December the Texas Rangers won the bid for Nippon Professional Baseball pitcher Yu Darvish.
On Wednesday, the Texas Rangers signed Darvish to a six-year deal worth anywhere from $56-60 million.
Texas gambled over $50 million just to be able to negotiate with the Japanese league pitcher.
The deal came down to the final moments—the Rangers were less than one hour from throwing $50 million away.
To Texas, it was worth the risk for a 25-year-old pitcher who dominated NPB in Japan.
There have now been 11 successful postings of Japanese players that resulted in either major league or minor league contracts in America.
The posting bids for the rights to negotiate with these players have ranged from $300,000 to Darvish's record $51.7 million.
Let's take a look at the five largest postings.
1. Yu Darvish: $51.7 Million Bid by Texas Rangers
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Texas bought the rights to negotiate with Yu Darvish for $51.7 million.
Last year he compiled a 1.44 ERA, 276 strikeouts and only 36 walks in 232 innings for the Nippon Ham Fighters.
He entered NPB from high school and has been pitching professionally since 2005. Since then, he has a staggering 93-38 record to go along with a 1.99 ERA and 1,259 strikeouts.
Only time will tell if his numbers will translate to MLB—the players before him that warranted large postings have not always worked out once they got to America.
2. Daisuke Matsuzaka: $51.1 Million Bid by Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox took the gamble on Daisuke Matsuzaka in 2006.
They spent $51.1 million to negotiate and signed Matsuzaka to a six-year, $52 million contract.
In Japan, he compiled a 108-60 record with a 2.95 ERA.
Since coming to the Red Sox, he has a 46-27 record but an inflated 4.18 ERA.
He has battled injuries while in the majors, including having Tommy John surgery in June 2011. He is unlikely to pitch until the middle of the 2012 season.
His best year was his second year in the majors, when he had an 18-3 record and a 2.90 ERA.
3. Kei Igawa: $26 Million Bid by New York Yankees
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This gamble can only be described as an astronomical bust.
The New York Yankees won the rights to Kei Igawa after posting $26 million.
He was 86-60 in Japan and had a 3.14 ERA. The Yankees signed him to a five-year, $20 million contract.
Most of Igawa's career was spent in the minors, and every time he was called up he was hammered.
His MLB stats were abysmal—a 2-4 record and a 6.66 ERA.
The Yankees were stuck with Igawa because Igawa would not approve being sold back to Japan. Two attempts to do so were made by Yankees GM Brian Cashman.
The highlight of his time in the U.S. was setting the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre record for career wins.
4. Ichiro Suzuki: $13.1 Million Bid by Seattle Mariners
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Ichiro Suzuki is the most successful player to have come to the majors from Japan.
The Seattle Mariners won negotiating rights with a $13.1 million bid in November 2000. He signed a three-year, $14 million deal.
Along with stellar defense, Ichiro has put up astonishing numbers at the plate.
He has compiled over 3,700 hits between MLB and NPB.
In 11 seasons in MLB, he has a career .326 average, 2,428 hits, 95 home runs, 605 RBI, 1,127 runs and 423 stolen bases.
Ichiro also broke the single-season hits record in 2004, besting the previous mark of 257 set by St. Louis Browns star George Sisler—a record that had stood since 1920.
His career in America is remarkable and he still continues to be productive.
Ichiro is a special player who was definitely worth the money.
5. Kazuhisa Ishii: $11.2 Million Bid by Los Angeles Dodgers
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The Los Angeles Dodgers won negotiating rights to Kazuhisa Ishii with a $11.2 million bid in 2002. He signed a four-year, $12.3 million deal a month later.
His NPB stats were mediocre; he was 109-73 and had a 3.54 ERA.
In the majors he was 39-34 with a 4.44 ERA.
In his first major league appearance, he struck out 10 in 5.2 innings against the Chicago Cubs.
In 2002, Ishii was the victim of being hit in the face with a ball, an injury that required emergency surgery.
He had a couple of good seasons in America. Throughout his career, Ishii was pretty good before the All-Star break but notoriously bad after the All-Star break.
Ishii now pitches in Japan for the Saitama Seibu Lions.