The Texas Rangers and Japanese superstar right-handed pitcher Yu Darvish reached an agreement for a six-year contract this evening, reportedly worth $60 million. Combined with the $51.7 million the Rangers bid through the posting system in order to win the rights to negotiate with Darvish, Texas paid more than $111 million to acquire him.
The ripple effect for the Nationals comes in relation to Prince Fielder. With the Darvish negotiation settled, the Rangers can fully turn their focus to their approach to Fielder, which should give agent Scott Boras at least a small amount of leverage with his talks with Nationals ownership regarding Fielder, the elite slugging first baseman who has remained in free agency longer than many imagined.
The popular thinking has been that Darvish’s negotiations would determine the Rangers’ stance toward Fielder. But does that really make any sense? Does the completion of Darvish’s deal have an effect on Fielder?
The Rangers’ front office surely bid on Darvish knowing full well what it would take to sign him, and with the intent of doing so. They surely budgeted that money into their offseason plan. In other words: They have surely known all along whether they wanted to, and could, make a play for Fielder as well.
And it sure seems like they will, seeing how Fielder met with Rangers representatives at a Dallas-area hotel over the weekend. Rangers president Nolan Ryan called the meeting “preliminary,” and speculation has still suggested the Rangers could most likely sign either Darvish or Fielder.
It seems to me that the Rangers already know whether they can afford to sign both, even if that means getting creative with a proposal to Fielder. If they couldn’t, why would they have wasted their time visiting him?
Maybe I’m reading this all wrong, and the meeting with Fielder was intended by the Rangers to send some kind of negotiating message to Darvish’s side. (Or maybe it was intended by Scott Boras as some kind negotiating message to the Nationals.) But it seems like the Rangers, with their overflowing TV money and hitter-haven ballpark, are a serious threat to land both the best pitcher ever to come out of Japan and the best free agent available.