Originally posted on Fox Sports Southwest  |  Last updated 12/20/11
The Texas Rangers showed Monday night that they arent going to give up their bid for another crack at the World Series without a fight. They did so without even signing a player. Texasdecision to go after Japanese right-hander Yu Darvish proved several things about the two-time defending American League champions. Fans were growing impatient because the Rangers had failed to make the big splash and many felt Texas had lost ground in the AL West to Los Angeles in the wake of the signings of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson. Some questioned whether the Rangers had the financial flexibility to go after a marquee player. Neither of those seems to be issues anymore after the Rangers outbid all other suitors for the right to negotiate with Darvish, agreeing to pay 51.7 million to the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters for that right. And while Texas general manager Jon Daniels said late Monday night the posting doesnt guarantee the Rangers will be able to sign Darvish, youd have to think the club wouldnt have agreed to put up the money if they didnt think they could get a deal done with the 25-year old potential ace. Going after Darvish proves the Rangers can be financial players just like the Angels, Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees. Thats comforting to a fan base that has seen its team lose starters Cliff Lee and Wilson in the last 13 months. And while there arent any Darvish jerseys for sale in the Texas gift shop just yet, that figures to be a formality. When the deal gets done, then the Rangers can try and figure out how hell impact the roster. One thing that is guaranteed is that Darvish will have one of the five rotation spots. The team wouldnt invest what could be in the 100-millon range and not put Darvish in the rotation. The other locks in the starting five figure to be Colby Lewis, Derek Holland and Matt Harrison. The odd-man out figures to be right-hander Alexi Ogando, who was an All-Star in 2011 in his first season as a starter. The club told Neftali Feliz last month that he was going into the starting rotation. While he hasnt started in the majors, the Rangers cant afford to continue to change the role Feliz has with the club. Last year he was given an opportunity to start in spring training only to be moved back into the closers role late in spring training. Hes said in the past he wants to be a starter and Texas doesnt want to continue to mess with the psyche of Feliz, whose last opportunity to close game in the Game 6 debacle at the World Series. The Rangers also dont need a closer anymore after the signing of Joe Nathan last month. Once the Rangers get a deal done with Darvish, it really works as two signings similar to the Nathan deal. When the Rangers signed Nathan, Daniels felt like the club also gained another starter in Feliz. Getting Darvish also gives the Rangers another key bullpen piece in Ogando, who dominated as a set-up man in 2010 and again in the postseason in 2011. Daniels said at the winter meetings earlier this month that bullpen and starting pitching were two of the areas the team still wanted to address and Darvish does that. The Rangers can now finish games with Mike Adams and Ogando getting the ball to Nathan. If Koji Uehara and Mike Adams can find consistency that was missing at the end of last season, then the back half of the bullpen is set even if the Rangers dont make another move. The free-agent pool for bullpen help is thinning and now the Rangers dont have to try and bring in another arm because Ogando is better than anything on the open market. Daniels said Monday that going after Darvish will impact the club on how it approaches free agents and trades over the next month because of the potential money invested in Darvish. But he also said that it wont change the teams approach to signing core players, which is a priority. If the club can get the deal with Darvish done and also lock up core players, the offseason certainly takes on a much brighter tone for the Rangers. That could once again be bad news for the rest of the American League.
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