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Monday, December 12, 2011
Free agent talk: Yu Darvish

By Richard Durrett

We continue our look at the Texas Rangers free agent and trade possibilities this offseason.

Today's free agent: Yu Darvish

MLB teams have until Wednesday at 4 p.m. Central time to put a bid in to negotiate with Darvish. He's started the posting process and teams submit sealed bids to the MLB office, and the club with the highest bid earns the right to negotiate with Darvish. They have 30 days to do so and if no deal is reached, the posting bid is returned to the team. If a deal is done, the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, Darvish's Japanese team, will get the money.

Yu Darvish
Yu Darvish was 18-6 with a 1.44 ERA and 276 strikeouts in the Pacific League.
Darvish, 25, was 18-6 with a 1.44 ERA and 276 strikeouts. Both the ERA and strikeouts led the Pacific League. One scout told me at the Winter Meetings that Darvish has excellent command and throws "just about anything you can think of." Various reports say the 6-foot-5 right-hander throws seven pitches, including a two-seamer that he added to his repertoire in 2010. He pitched for Japan in the 2009 World Baseball Classic and at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

It's tough to know exactly what it will take to win the bidding with Darvish. But during the Winter Meetings, the common thought was at least $30 million. Some think he might get as much as Daisuke Matsuzaka, who went to Boston after the Red Sox paid a $51 million bid and then gave him $50 million over five years.

Would the Rangers spend more than $100 million on Darvish? I doubt it. They weren't comfortable going a fifth year on C.J. Wilson, who got $77.5 million from the Angels. Is Darvish better than Wilson? Maybe. But it's tough to know. He's about six years younger and clearly has tremendous stuff. But he's never pitched in the majors. Is it worth the risk?

The Rangers have to decide what they feel is the correct value for Darvish. I do think they'll bid (simply my opinion), but they might decide to only bid a certain amount -- maybe that's between $20 to $30 million (or not even that high...that's just a total guess by what folks are saying he could be worth) -- and you see if that's enough to get him or someone goes a lot higher than that to get him. If that bid gets the rights to negotiate with him, maybe the entire package looks more like what Wilson got from the Angels or less and you see what Darvish does.

The other option is to break the bank and decide Darvish has such upside that you wanted him in the rotation more than Wilson. So you put in a high bid, you spend some money now and you hope that you can keep your core together in future years. Judging by how the Rangers approached things at the Winter Meetings, they are hesitant to do that. And I don't blame them. Signing the core has to be the priority and the club says that is their priority as players start to become free agents after 2012.

But we'll see. And the way the system works, the Rangers won't have any idea what other clubs are doing and vice versa. They simply put in a bid and see if it's the winning one. They put one in on Matsuzaka and didn't win. Will they win this one?

How should the Rangers handle the Darvish bidding? Should they make it their mission to get him or put a bid in they feel is competitive, but fair, and see what happens?