It was reported yesterday that the Texas Rangers had posted the highest bid for Japanese superstar pitcher, Yu Darvish, at an absurd $51.7 million. For those of you who don’t know how this whole process works, it starts out that when a player, such as Yu, is still under contract with his team in Japan, the MLB teams have the opportunity to bid on the player. No team knows what anyone else’s bid is at and in the end the highest bid obviously wins. The catch in this process is that the $51.7 million dollars is the price that it costs to negotiate at contract with Darvish, so he is not even a member of the team yet. The Rangers have 30 days to reach a deal with Darvish and if they cannot strike a deal, the Rangers will get their money back and Darvish will most likely be going back to Japan for another year and then have to go through the same process next winter.
In 2006, the Boston Red Sox went through the exact same process to sign Japanese star, Daisuke Matsuzaka. They posted a bid at $51 million and then agreed on a 5 year deal worth nearly $60 million, so if you do the math, the Red Sox spent $110 million over five years for a player who had no major league experience. Daisuke’s first year was mediocre at best, although he did win 15 games, but had an ERA over 4. Then in 2008 he really turned it on and went 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA, making the deal look like a steal considering what pitchers of that caliber are usually paid. After that season, Matsuzaka really tailed off, suffering multiple shoulder and elbow injuries, he has yet to return to top form.
The biggest difference between Matsuzaka and Darvish is that Yu will be three years younger than Daisuke when he starts his MLB career and Darvish is also a large physical specimen standing at 6’5 and 230 pounds. However, none of this really matters until he steps foot in Texas and starts delivering for the Rangers. If he turns out to be a bust, which isn’t out of the question, the entire Japanese posting process will be under a lot of scrutiny and it is unlikely that the high-prized Japanese stars will be worth a lot to MLB teams. I think that Yu has the potential to be an elite pitcher for a lot of years in the MLB, but only time will tell.