Rabid Reaction: We debut our series of knee-jerk-styled, emotional overreactions from Ben Rogers of 103.3 FM ESPN's Ben and Skin Show. He's known to get way too excited over even the slightest of developments with the teams he grew up with in the D/FW. Proceed with caution ...
A month ago, I had never even heard of him. Now I'm convinced that the Rangers have to have him. I'm talking about spectacular 24-year old Japanese MLB-ace-in-waiting Yu Darvish.
By now, I'm sure you're aware that you needn't waste your own precious time charting the early projections of every single potential global phenom wearing footsie pajamas. It would simply be a waste of your personal resources. Jon Daniels and his amazing cast of genius baseballing front office Jedi masters are way ahead of you.
You and I see a third-grader popping wheelies. Daniels sees a future second baseman with gap power. You and I notice a 14-year-old save his sister's snow cone in the bleachers. Daniels sees a potential home run-robbing centerfield candidate for the 2022 season. Right now he's the closest thing in baseball to the Oracle in the "Matrix."
He's quick to share the spotlight with his front office comrades when it comes to their success. To that end, you can expect other teams to come calling for his brightest personnel people in the very near future. Their group has become one of the most aggressive, most astute and most respected front offices in all of baseball and thus highly coveted by other franchises.
They're everywhere. They see everything. In fact, there's currently not even a game of backyard wiffleball being played anywhere on the planet that Daniels, assistant GM Thad Levine and director of player personnel A.J. Preller don't know about.
They leave no stone unturned. Just consider the remarkable story of Alexi Ogando.
But that's ancient history. They've been very busy recently, and I'm not talking about the nationally applauded trade deadline acquisitions of relievers Koji Uehara and Mike Adams.
In May they inked Cuban defector/outfielder Leonys Martin to a five-year deal worth $15.5 million (including a healthy $5 million bonus). It made for the second-largest contract ever given to a Cuban defector. Martin is now commonly regarded as a top-5 prospect in the Rangers organization and a good bet to roam center field for the big league club next season.
In July they signed the two most-coveted 16-year old prospects in the Dominican Republic in outfielders Nomar Mazara ($5 million bonus) and Ronald Guzman ($3.45 million bonus). Mazara's bonus set a record and Guzman's wasn't far behind.
Based on their most recent global talent hauls, it should come as no surprise to anyone that the Rangers have been directly linked as big potential players in the Yu Darvish sweepstakes. In late June, Daniels was spotted personally scouting a Darvish start in Japan.
It is now widely expected that his Japanese team will make him available through the silent auction posting process following this season. The Rangers would have to win that bidding process just to pay his current team for the rights to attempt to negotiate a separate contract with Darvish. If the Rangers were to win the bid but find themselves unable to work out a deal with Darvish, their bid money would be refunded.
For a frame of reference, in 2007 Boston bid over $51 million for merely the right to negotiate with Daisuke Matsuzaka. They then negotiated an additional six-year, $52 million deal directly with the player to get him on the Red Sox.
Is Yu the next Dice-K? If so, would he be worth $100+ million?
Since I've only become a Yu Darvish expert in the last five minutes, I'll simply share with you the opinion I've formulated based on conversations with respected baseball brains in culmination with my own well-documented propensity for extreme hyperbole ... he'll be better than Dice-K.
Darvish will arrive with fewer miles on his Japanese baseball odometer and will therefore have an even higher ceiling. He is currently the best pitcher in all of Japan, and everything you hear about him is that he's ready to front a major league rotation today.
You've got to like his age, his front-of-rotation wares and the potential long term controllability of his first MLB contract. And the Rangers always need starting pitching. Always. In addition, with two Japanese players already on the roster in Uehara and Yoshinori Tateyama, Texas might just be an ideal fit for him, as well.
Now that you know about him, I'm sure you'll agree as a fellow instant authority on all things Darvish, he is an absolute must-sign for Texas.
But don't panic about the fact that he's only just now arriving on your personal radar screen if you weren't already dialed in. Daniels and his elite staff of worldwide talent sharks are already all over it.