Insider: Texas better without Yu Darvish?

January, 13, 2012
ESPN Insider Matt Meyers writes that the Rangers might be better off by not signing Yu Darvish by Wednesday's 4 p.m. deadline. Meyers is quick to say he doesn't feel that the Rangers will be hurt by signing Darvish, but he likes the other options on the market, including Prince Fielder. Part of his story:
The good news for the Rangers is that they have other options. For starters, free agent first baseman Prince Fielder remains unsigned. And even though the Washington Nationals have reportedly increased their pursuit, Fielder's agent, Scott Boras, is no dummy. He knows the Rangers probably can't sign both Darvish and Fielder, but if they don't sign Darvish, they likely will be back in on Fielder, and he can create a bidding war that currently doesn't exist. In other words, don't expect Fielder to sign with anyone until the Darvish situation is resolved.

Of course, Fielder will cost more than Darvish, and that needs to be taken into account. Estimating Darvish likely will cost the Rangers $130 million to sign, Fielder's contract will run close to $200 million. However, Fielder's contract can be spaced out over many more years (perhaps 10), while the posting fee must be paid up front. Therefore, the Rangers would take less of a hit in 2012 for signing the slugging first baseman since Darvish would cost close to $70 million for this season between posting fee and salary.

From an on-field perspective, the advantages of signing Fielder are obvious. He has been one of the most consistent performers in baseball over the last six years, never appearing in fewer than 157 games and never producing fewer than 2.1 of Baseball Reference's wins above replacement (while averaging 4.0 WAR). As talented as Darvish is, he's still a wild card. We don't know how he will respond to a new culture and having to pitch on shorter rest -- NPB hurlers typically throw on at least six days of rest. With Fielder you know you are getting a premium middle-of-the-order bat for the next few years, and the Rangers currently employ Mitch Moreland at first base, which means Fielder would be a considerable upgrade.

Meyers submits this idea, if Darvish doesn't sign:
Suppose the Rangers sign Fielder for $200 million over 10 years and Jackson for $10 million for one year, which adds up to $30 million for 2012. That's still much less than the posting fee-salary combo that they'll have to pay Darvish this year, which we already established at close to $70 million. All of this considered, the Rangers are much better with Fielder and Jackson than they would be with just Darvish.

It gets a bit trickier beyond 2012, but the Rangers currently have barely $40 million committed for 2013, not to mention the extra revenue from two straight World Series trips and an influx of cash on the way from their new cable deal.

Therefore, not all is lost if the Rangers don't come to an accord with Darvish. They should hold firm to a figure with which they feel comfortable. There is no possibility of him signing with another MLB team this year, and they might actually be able to make their team even better if they don't sign Darvish.

I'll get into my take on this more next week, but to me, the Rangers determined Darvish was the best option this offseason at pitcher. They've met him in person, scouted him the past few seasons, put together a recruiting video to try to lure him here. The rotation needs another big arm and he can provide it. That's not to say I wouldn't want Fielder in Texas. But the priority is pitching.



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Colby Lewis
10 5.18 133 170
BAA. Beltre .324
HRA. Beltre 19
RBIA. Beltre 77
RA. Beltre 79
OPSA. Beltre .879
ERAC. Lewis 5.18
SOY. Darvish 182