The trade rumors are flying. The Texas Rangers have not looked like a playoff team all year and teams are starting to show interest in one of their hottest commodities: Yu Darvish. Here’s why the Rangers ought to keep him.
It’s true, the Rangers have not looked very good this year. And while I think Jeff Bannister ought to hold out one more week before he starts trading players, I don’t think it’s a bad idea. However, Darvish should not be considered in this trade talk.
You can put up players like Cole Hamels and Mike Napoli. Jurickson Profar has been disappointing this year though he’s looked better as of late. His past performance and WBC stats ought to be enough to get something in return for him. I’d like to hold on to some of the younger guys but players like Ryan Rua and Drew Robertson could be put on the trading block.
Obviously, you won’t see Adrian Beltre or Elvis Andrus getting put out there and I doubt Rougned Odor will either with the sizeable contract we gave him before the season began. Joey Gallo could get floated out there but I he’s still young and shows potential so I hope not.
Yu Darvish is, of course, the biggest question mark. He’s an ace who’s been successful his whole career and those are in high demand right now. If the Texas Rangers did decide to trade him, they’d be sure to get a nice return for him. Yet I believe the Rangers need to keep Darvish on staff. Here’s why:
1. He’s the Strikeout King
Yu Darvish is the greatest strikeout pitcher to ever walk the face of the planet. Ever. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at the stats. Yu Darvish has a career K/9 (strikeouts per 9 IP) of 11.0. Now he’s only pitched 779 career innings and officially you must have at least 1000 IP before you can be considered a career leader in a starting pitcher category but he’s on pace to shatter the record.
The current leader? Oh just Randy Johnson, the Big Unit. One of the most dominant pitchers of all-time and a Hall of Famer. He had just 10.6 K/9. Even if Darvish slows down a little bit as he ages, he still has a pretty good chance to beat Johnson’s record.
2. He’s Clutch
When it comes to getting out of sticky situations, few are better than Darvish. With two outs and runners in scoring position, batters are hitting just .174 against him. His strikeout to walk ratio is an impressive 4.52, his best of any situation.
When the game is late and close, he has a 3.67 strikeout to walk ratio, his second best of any situation. While there’s never a situation in which opponents hit better than .230 against him, he seems to be at his best in close games. The same goes for his SO/W statistics. The closer the game, the more batters he fans and the less he walks. That’s the kind of pitcher you want to hold on to. One who will kick things up a notch when the game is on the line.
3. He’s a Veteran Presence in the Locker Room
Of all the starting pitchers on the Texas Rangers staff, only Martin Perez has been with the club as long as Darvish has. The presence of veterans that are familiar with the team and staff is not something to be taken lightly. Just ask the Houston Astros.
4. Shohei Otani
Perhaps the most important reason to keep Yu Darvish around for the rest of the year and the future is Shohei Otani. The reason you trade veterans is to be looking forward to the future, younger stars of the game. Shohei Otani is one such star.
When people try to compare Otani to other players, the name that comes up most often is Babe Ruth. When you’re getting comparisons to arguably the greatest baseball player to ever live, you’re pretty dang good.
Otani is not just one of the best sluggers of Japan, he’s one of its premier pitchers too. Last year, he went 10-4 with a 1.86 ERA, 11.2 K/9, and an impressive 0.957 WHIP. As if his pitching performance wasn’t good enough, he batted .322 on the year and smashed 22 home runs on the way to a 1.004 OPS.
So the guy is pretty good. Rumor has it, he’s planning on coming to the majors next year. And the Texas Rangers are at the top of his list thanks to none other than Yu Darvish. Having a fellow Japanese pitcher that’s found success in the U.S. would be helpful for Otani in making that transition to the majors.
So if the Rangers want to look to the future, it would be a wise idea to keep Darvish on board. Not just as a bargaining chip for Otani, but also because he’s one of the best pitchers in the game.