The Rangers reportedly bid $51.7 million just for the right to negotiate a possible contract with Yu Darvish. How much more will it take to actually get him signed?
Darvish made 500 million yen in 2011, which at present exchange rates is about $6.4 million. mlbtraderumors.com has passed on rumors that it could take $70 to 75 million to bring him to the U.S.
Past signings of posted players suggests that a six year contract in the $54 to 60 million range is most likely. That’s not a whole lot more per year than what he’s making now, but I have to think that at 500 million yen, Darvish is up against the de facto limit for any NPB team other than the Yomiuri Giants or the Hanshin Tigers. His high salary is probably a big part of the reason the Nippon Ham Fighters posted him in the first place, aside from the enormous posting fee he commanded.
Also, Japanese teams rarely give players multi-year contracts, so I would think it would be hard for Darvish to turn down a $54 to 60 million long-term deal.
It’s a big time play for the Rangers — high risk and high reward, at least if they successfully sign Darvish. One thing I don’t like about the posting system, is that MLB teams don’t pay anything if they don’t sign the posted player to a contract. I still kind of wonder whether the A’s didn’t place the winning bid on Hisashi Iwakuma last winter and then low-ball him in contract talks just to keep him away from their competitors.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Darvish is more promising at this moment than Diasuke Matsuzaka was when the Red Sox first committed a little over $103 million to bring Dice-K to Boston.
Matsuzaka shows both the risks and possible rewards. He went 33-15 his first two seasons and has been battling arm problems the last three. Fangraphs estimates his total value through the first five years of his six year deal at only $44.9 million.
Clearly, if fangraphs’ estimate is accurate, the Red Sox made a big mistake signing Dice-K. However, if Matsuzaka’s arm had stayed healthy, the Red Sox likely would have received roughly what they paid for.
Like Matsuzaka, Darvish has pitched an awful lot of innings at a tender age in Japan. Unlike Dice-K, Darvish has never had any significant injuries in his career to date (Matsuzaka had elbow problems in 2002).
Also, the Rangers have to like the fact that Darvish is much bigger than Matsuzaka. Fangraphs lists Matsuzaka as six feet even and 185 lbs. NPB’s website lists Darvish as 6’5″ and 215 lbs. That’s definitely a body-type scouts like to see in pitchers.
If Darvish comes to the U.S., I think he’ll dominate major league hitters for the first two seasons, like Hideo Nomo with better control. After that, we’ll see how his arm holds up and what kind of adjustments American League hitters make.