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The Early Lead
Posted at 11:28 AM ET, 12/20/2011

Rangers win Yu Darvish derby: let the negotiation begin

Despite winning back-to-back American League pennants to advance to the World Series in each of the last two seasons, the Texas Rangers have yet to seal the deal. And if you’re looking for one factor that has kept the franchise from getting over the hump in the Fall Classic, starting pitching might be it.

After losing No. 1 starter C.J. Wilson to the Angels in free agency, Nolan Ryan’s ballclub knew it needed to upgrade its rotation. And that’s precisely why the Rangers bid a reported record $51.7 million to land the rights to negotiate with Japanese superstar Yu Darvish.

With Monday night’s announcement that Texas out-bid the Toronto Blue Jays and others, the team now has a 30-day window to try to get Japan’s best pitcher to make the move to Arlington.

Sure the 2010 Rangers boasted one of the best arms in the bigs in lefty Cliff Lee. Yes, C.J. Wilson was a hot commodity on the free agent market this winter for a reason. And indeed, that silly mustached man, Derek Holland, was nothing short of brilliant in Game 4 against the Cardinals. But the numbers show the Rangers’ starters failed to get the job done on the biggest stage.

In 12 World Series games, Rangers starters gave up 28 earned runs in 68 1/3 innings — good for a 3.69 ERA. But those six starters combined for a 2-7 record and only three times did they last a full seven innings.

If the Rangers can negotiate a deal with Darvish’s Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, they could end up with the staff ace they’ve lacked since Lee’s departure after the 2010 season.


How much more will the Rangers to get Darvish into their clubhouse? (STR - AFP/Getty Images)
“Obviously, it’s a very exciting night for our organization, our fans and our community,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said on a conference call on Monday night. “Our ownership went the extra mile on this one.”

The bid, first reported by Yahoo Sports and the New York Times, eclipses the $51.1 million the Boston Red Sox spent to negotiate with Daisuke Matsuzaka in 2006. Darvish, a 6-foot-5, 25-year-old with a 93-38 record, 1.99 ERA and a 10.7 K/9 ratio during his career, throws seven pitches and is said to have tremendous control.

“Darvish is the No. 1 pitcher in Japan, but we want him to become the ace of the world,” Fighters’ team representative Toshimasa Shimada said earlier this month.

Now the question facing the Rangers is how much will it cost them to make that a reality?

More from Washington Post Sports:

Nationals Journal: Nats did not bid on Darvish

Early Lead: Blue Jays will go after Darvish

Early Lead: C.J. Wilson joins Albert Pujols with Angels

Baseball Insider: Angels shock MLB with massive deal for Pujols

By  |  11:28 AM ET, 12/20/2011

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