Yu Darvish Traded to Dodgers from Rangers for Willie Calhoun, A.J. Alexy, More

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJuly 31, 2017

DETROIT, MI - MAY 21:  Yu Darvish #11 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on May 21, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
Duane Burleson/Getty Images

The Texas Rangers traded starting pitcher Yu Darvish to the Los Angeles Dodgers right before Monday's non-waiver trade deadline.

Texas announced the deal, revealing it received outfielder/second baseman Willie Calhoun, pitcher A.J. Alexy and infielder Brendon Davis.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports first reported the trade.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports later weighed in on the return:

Darvish was one of the top pitching options on the MLB trade market. Through 22 starts, he has a 4.01 ERA and a 3.98 fielding independent pitching (FIP) mark, per FanGraphs.

Moving Darvish makes sense for Texas. The Houston Astros are running away with the American League West, while the Japanese right-hander is in the final year of his contract.

Since the Rangers are likely going to miss the playoffs, they might as well trade Darvish now rather than possibly watch him leave in free agency for nothing. The Rangers can still sign Darvish as a free agent in the offseason, similar to how the New York Yankees brought back Aroldis Chapman after trading him in the middle of last season.

The deal signals that Texas may be abandoning its playoff pursuit in the short term, but FanGraphs' Dave Cameron argued in May that being a seller at the deadline can be a good thing: 

"As the Yankees showed last year, being the guy with the stuff everyone wants can be an enviable position, and the Yankees' willingness to sell at last year's deadline was probably one of the best things that has happened to the franchise in a while. The Rangers won't control the starting pitching market the same way the Yankees controlled the reliever market, but for teams looking at a short-term upgrade, there's not going to be a more appealing option than slotting Darvish in at the front of their rotation."  

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Through the Darvish trade, general manager Jon Daniels can rebuild a farm system that went from one of MLB's best to among the more middling. Baseball America ranked Texas' minor league organization at No. 22 prior to this year, and Bleacher Report's Joel Reuter listed the farm system 24th following the MLB draft.

The Rangers aren't necessarily executing a full-scale rebuild. Rougned Odor, Cole Hamels, Elvis Andrus, Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara and Adrian Beltre are all under contract or team control through at least next year. Texas' window for contention is open through 2018.

For the time being, however, Daniels' priorities have shifted.

The Dodgers, meanwhile, will view Darvish as somebody can help get them into the playoffs and win a World Series.

Relying on half-season rentals is risky, though, and Darvish is no different. He's averaging 9.72 strikeouts per nine innings, over two fewer than last year (11.84). Fans who expect the version of Darvish who finished second in the 2013 AL Cy Young voting may be disappointed.

While he only turns 31 in August, Darvish's workload in Japan prior to his arrival in MLB raises questions over whether his career arc will resemble that of a typical starting pitcher.

Hideo Nomo and Daisuke Matsuzaka are the most notable examples of Japanese pitchers who hit a wall early in their time in the United States and never fully recovered.

Darvish may have just gotten off to a slow start in the first half with a regression to the mean set to come in the second half. But between all of the mileage he has put on his right arm and the Tommy John surgery he had in 2015, it wouldn't be surprising if his decline came in swift fashion.

Regardless, the rich get richer in this trade. The Dodgers already had one of the strongest starting rotations in the majors, and now they're adding Darvish.

Darvish also provides some stability on the mound with Clayton Kershaw's back injury a cause for concern.

The Dodgers front office is showing how desperate it is to win a World Series. Los Angeles could've stuck with what it had and remained the best team in the National League. Instead, the Dodgers are leaving as little to chance as possible when it comes to the postseason.