Here's the latest news from Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports:
There you have it. The Rangers have won the rights to Japanese superstar Yu Darvish, arguably the most coveted pitcher on the market this offseason.
That the Rangers have won the bidding comes as a slight surprise, as the Toronto Blue Jays were rumored to be the frontrunners for Darvish. In fact, George A. King of the New York Post wrote on Friday that the Jays were the "favorites" to land Darvish after bidding between $40 and $50 million for his services.
But the needle started to point in the Rangers' direction over the weekend. Earlier on Monday, ESPN's Buster Olney tweeted that the Rangers were the best bet:
Olney subsequently noted the Jays signaled that they weren't very confident in their bid for Darvish when they stayed in the running for Mat Latos until the last minute. The San Diego Padres ended up trading Latos to the Cincinnati Reds.
The Rangers now have 30 days to come to terms with Darvish on a contract. Once the deal is done, they will have landed themselves the best pitching prospect to ever come out of Japan.
That's high praise, but it is well deserved in Darvish's case. His stuff is absolutely filthy, and it is made all the more dangerous by his ability to command it. Assuming these two things carry over to the states, there's no reason Darvish won't be able to thrive in the major leagues.
Darvish certainly has a lot of success to build on. In seven seasons for the Nippon Ham Fighters, Darvish won 93 games and posted an ERA of 1.99. He was able to keep his ERA under the 2.00 mark in each of the last five seasons, and he is coming off a particularly brilliant 2011 campaign in which he posted an ERA of 1.44 and a WHIP of 0.83.
Are the Rangers now the favorites to win the AL pennant in 2012?
Darvish will have to make adjustments if he expects to survive in the big leagues, but he should benefit from the fact that the league will be facing him for the first time.
At the absolute very least, the Rangers will have solidified their starting rotation when they sign Darvish to a contract. That's really the only thing they needed to do, as their lineup is as solid as a rock and their bullpen is one of the best in the American League.
Make no mistake, the Rangers already were one of the best teams in the AL. When they secure Darvish, they should be considered favorites to make a run at the World Series, which would be their third straight appearance.
If Darvish makes good on his ace potential, the Rangers may even be the favorite to win it all.
It is worth noting that the last team to win a major bidding process for a star Japanese pitcher was in the winter of 2006 when the Boston Red Sox won the rights to Daisuke Matsuzaka. They ended up going to and winning the World Series that year.
Right now, the Rangers are hoping that trend will hold in 2012.