Though they have until mid-afternoon on Tuesday to do so, the Nippon Ham Fighters are expected to announce that they have accepted the highest bid for the negotiating rights for Japanese right hander Yu Darvish this evening.
While much of the past week has been spent assuming that the Toronto Blue Jays submitted the highest bid through the posting system used by Japanese clubs, there is late word today that many inside baseball expect it will be the Texas Rangers who are awarded the rights to Darvish.
Regardless of which club comes out on top, the winning bidder will have a 30-day window to sign Darvish to a contract. If no agreement is reached, the posting fee will be refunded and Darvish will return to Nippon Ham for the remainder of his contract.
Speculation has the high bid reaching a point beyond the $51.2 million the Red Sox paid to talk to Daisuke Matsuzaka. There was a prevailing thought that those kinds of dollars would eliminate the Rangers, as they have money already spent on ballpark renovations and a buyout of former owner Chuck Greenberg on their books this winter. The Rangers finances has been classified as both scarce and vast this off-season, with team President Nolan Ryan cautioning that his club doesn’t have much disposable income this year.
Most around baseball don’t seem to be buying that, however.
In addition to the speculation that it might have been Texas that offered as much as $55 million to the Fighters for Darvish, the Rangers have also been linked heavily to free agent Prince Fielder, who doesn’t figure to come cheaply, either. Coming off consecutive World Series runs and with a mammoth new television contract in hand, the Rangers seem to have much deeper pockets than Ryan is indicating.
If Ryan’s words are true, why wouldn’t his club have made more moves to shore up the roster at this point? If the Rangers really weren’t in on Darvish or Fielder, why haven’t they pulled the trigger on a trade for a starting pitcher, when they’ve been linked to a handful via trade rumors? Why wouldn’t they have already picked up a utility infielder or a fourth outfielder to replace the losses of Endy Chavez and Andres Blanco?
My guess is that their focus has been elsewhere. They’ve been waiting on Darvish.
All the guesses and speculation will come to an end this evening and finally then, hopefully the Rangers and their fans can get a better idea of what to expect going forward. If the Rangers did indeed win the bidding, that would almost guarantee that they will not be signing Fielder. If it’s the Blue Jays that land Darvish, however, look for even more speculation that Fielder will be coming to Arlington.
Given all the mixed signals, it’s hard to get a read on exactly what the Rangers are planning, but it sure feels like they are the sleeping giant and that sooner or later they’ll wake up and pounce on a big-time name.
Of course, they really haven’t lied to us yet. All along, GM Jon Daniels maintained that they weren’t willing to overextend themselves for C.J. Wilson and they never even made him an official offer once they saw his offers elsewhere were out of the Rangers’ comfort zone. Could it be that they were saving their money for someone like Darvish, instead? Maybe. But it also could be that the Rangers aren’t quite as well-off as many people think.
I just have a hard time believing that this club would be willing to sit idly by while the Angels scoop up all the headlines. The Rangers must have enough in their bank account to make one bold move this winter. Whether it be Darvish or Fielder (certainly not both), I just have to think Texas has a big move yet to come.