Even conceptually, the idea that teams were bidding to have the rights to negotiate with an international superstar – the best pitcher in the world, some said – was different and cool. How much would it cost just to talk to the guy? $10 million? $20 million? No. $51 million. This guy is going to be the pitching equivalent of Ichiro. Except better! With sprinkles!
Ah, but hype has a way of generating its own momentum; momentum that only hindsight can squash.
At the end of the day, the Red Sox have paid almost $100 million for one great season and a bunch of headaches. I doubt anyone would suggest the Red Sox are happy with the way that signing played out.
And, if it’s possible, Yu Darvish is more hyped than Daisuke was.
Darvish, who turns 25 next week, is one of the best pitchers in Japan, and the staff ace of the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters (if the name sounds familiar, it’s the land of wind and ghosts to which AAAA lifers Micah Hoffpauir and Bobby Scales were banished earlier this year). He could have come to the States after graduating high school in 2004, but elected instead to go pro in Japan.
There, he’s been a phenomenal success (though he still makes only $4 to 5 million per year), with a career ERA just above two, a WHIP just over one, and a K/9 just under nine. And he’s done all that as a teenager and an early-20-something. There’s no doubt that the kid is good.
But is he worth risking the Matsuzaka mistake?
Phil Rogers says the Cubs should seriously consider making a run at Darvish if his team decides to post him this Winter (Darvish won’t be a free agent for a while yet, so the only way he’s coming Stateside is if his team decides to sell him). And, in a vacuum, I agree.
Why wouldn’t you want to take a chance on a lottery ticket like Darvish? Expecting him to duplicate his Japanese results in MLB would be a mistake, but there’s no reason to be certain he couldn’t be a good Major League starter. In case this year didn’t shock your system to the truth: those guys can be pretty hard to find.
I say I would agree in a vacuum, because the money’s the thing. It always is.
I doubt a team is going to do the $50+ million posting thing again (and then another $50 million for the contract), but would $25 million be excessive? That would buy your team the exclusive right to make a deal with Darvish for six years. If he gets the $50ish million that Matsuzaka got on a contract, that’s a $75 million investment for six (prime) years of control. Would you sign Darvish, today, to a six-year, $75 million contract? I’m not sure what I would do, but it’s certainly an interesting discussion.
For now, we’ll have to wait and see if he’s posted this Winter, and, if he is, whether the Cubs will sniff around at the bidding. It seems likely that they would, not only because of their need for pitching, but because true Japanese superstars like Darvish can offer teams in a large market additional revenue streams. For what it’s worth, MLBTR recently confirmed that Darvish does have American representation on the agent side. It would seem silly to have such an arrangement if it was out of the realm of possibility that you’d be coming over to the States in the near term.
I’m hoping Darvish’s team decides to post him this year if for no other reason than, like with Daisuke, it would be pretty exciting to discuss and watch unfold.