The results of the blind auction bidding process for the exclusive right to negotiate with star Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish have finally been revealed, and the Texas Rangers used a $51.7 million bid to beat out teams like the Chicago Cubs, New York Yankess and Toronto Blue Jays. By posting the highest bid, the Rangers will have 30 days to negotiate a major league contract with Darvish, and the negotiation window will open when his Japanese team formally accepts the Rangers' bid. If no deal is reached during the negotiation window, the posting fee is waived and Darvish will return to the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters for another season.
Darvish is not your typical Japanese pitcher, as he stands 6'4" and can reportedly touch 95 mph on the radar gun. The 25-year old right-handed pitcher burst onto the scene when he lead the Japanese national team to a World Baseball Classic title back in 2009, but he has been dominating Japanese teams for quite a while now -- he went 18-6 with a 1.44 ERA, to go with 276 strikeouts and just 36 walks in 232 innings of work for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters in 2011.
The Cubs were known to have submitted a formal bid, but it just wasn't high enough to beat out the Rangers. What did Theo Epstein and the Cubs organization miss out on? Here is a scouting report from SB Nation's Rangers blog, Lone Star Ball:
Darvish throws a two seamer, four seamer, and a cut fastball, with the four seamer supposedly getting up to 95 mph. He also has a slider and a curveball, along with a changeup, although it is questionable whether his change will actually get much use in MLB, as it seems to be his sixth best pitch.
He throws hard, he strikes guys out, and he gets swings and misses.
What remains to be seen is how this will translate to the U.S. Japanese hitters tend to be less selective than MLB hitters, with the result being that Japanese pitchers may seem to "nibble" when they come to the States, since they are used to being able to get batters to chase balls out of the zone. Without a changeup, I guess you could worry about how he would fare against lefties, but his cut fastball is supposed to be good, and a cut fastball is a good weapon against opposite-handed hitters.
The Rangers' $51.7 million bid is a new league record, topping the $51.11 million bid Theo Epstein and the Boston Red Sox posted for Daisuke Matsuzaka on 2006.
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