US Presswire file photo
Yu Darvish could cost the Rangers as much as $121.7 million in the end.
Darvish agreed to a six-year, $60 million contract with Texas shortly before today's 5 p.m. EST deadline, ending that saga and perhaps paving the way for Prince Fielder to finally sign with some club after a long winter of speculation.
But first, the details of Darvish's deal. He receives the largest package ever handed to a Japanese player, topping the six-year, $52 million contract Daisuke Matsuzaka signed with the Red Sox in 2007. That's on top of the record $51.7 million posting fee that will go to Darvish's former club, the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters.
So that makes the total cost to acquire Darvish $111.7 million ... except, there could still be more. The deal includes up to $10 million in bonuses, according to various reports, so that could bring the grand total to $121.7 million.
Do you know how few pitchers in major-league history have cost more than $111 million? There's CC Sabathia ($161 million), Johan Santana ($137.5 million), Barry Zito ($126 million), Mike Hampton ($121 million) and Cliff Lee ($120 million). And all of those guys had obviously established themselves as successful big leaguers before signing their deals.
By all accounts, Darvish is unlike any pitcher who has ever come out of Japan. Scouts across the board project him as a major-league ace. But at that price, anything less is going to look like a big-time disappointment.
Now, how does this all affect the Fielder saga? The Rangers have been among the primary pursuers of the big first baseman all along and met with him and agent Scott Boras in person last week. But conventional wisdom suggested Texas couldn't make a firm commitment to Fielder until it knew whether the Darvish deal would get done. Now that Darvish has signed, there's nothing stopping the Rangers from engaging in serious negotiations with Fielder.
Can Texas afford Prince after forking over so much money for Darvish? Depends who you ask. Though some in the baseball world have believed there was no way the Rangers would sign both superstars, local beat writers insist it's still a possibility.
Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports the Rangers "remain interested" in Fielder, though any deal would probably have to be "creative." In other words, they aren't going to give him $200 million over eight years, but they might be willing to give him $150 million over six years with an opt-out clause after three or four years.
At this point, there don't appear to be any clubs willing to meet Boras' lofty demands for Fielder, including the Nationals. The Nats, according to club sources, continue to maintain they would sign Fielder only if his price came way down (particularly in the number of years).
Could that still represent the best offer to Fielder when it's all said and done? Perhaps, though that scenario still appears unlikely.
But one way or another, you've got to believe the finish line to this saga is beginning to come into view.