Originally written on Midwest Sports Fans  |  Last updated 1/20/12

The Texas Rangers and Yu Darvish went right up to the Wednesday deadline to finalize a deal, but they got it done. Darvish signed a 6 year, $60 million dollar deal to join the Rangers.

The 25-year old pitcher has been pegged as the best pitcher in Japanese baseball, and he has the stats to prove this claim.

Image source: Mop-up Duty

In the NPS (Japan’s version of the MLB) he went 18-6, with an ERA of 1.44 this past season. He also recorded 276 strikeouts in 232 innings of work, which were both league highs.

I can see why MLB teams would want to have a pitcher like Darvish on their team, but the price seems excessive. For a team to even negotiate a deal for Darvish, they had to bid against other MLB teams. The Rangers won the bidding process and now have to pay $51.7 million to Darvish’s former team. (Had they not come to an agreement before the deadline, the fee would have been waived.)

Darvish has the physical tools, as he stands at 6 feet 5 inches tall, but this is a large sum of money for one player. Japan has many talented players, but they often do not compare to even average players in the MLB. It is tough to tell how good Darvish truly is until he consistently faces MLB hitters.

Darvish should be able to fare well early on, but that can be due to a lack of knowledge for the opposing teams. His situation is similar to that of Daisuke Matsuzaka of the Red Sox, who came over from Japan in 2007. Both pitchers dominated the NPS and were highly scouted by MLB teams. Like Darvish, Matsuzaka was given a large contract (6 years, $52 million) and was hyped coming into the season.

Matsuzaka came out in his first year as a member of the Red Sox and was a major part of the rotation, as the team won the World Series in ’07. In his first two seasons he went a combined 33-15, but he has gone 16-15 since. 2009 and 2011 were both impacted by injuries, but in 2010 he went 9-6 in 25 starts.

I am not trying to say that Darvish’s results will mirror that of Matsuzaka, but their situations are comparable. Darvish will face immense pressure to be the guy in the Rangers’ rotation. Now that C.J. Wilson is gone, the Rangers are going to heavily rely on Darvish. The pressure will not be relieved by the fact that the team is paying over $111 million dollars for the services of Darvish.

It is my hope that Darvish has success in the MLB. Consistent success by Japanese players will help continue to bring their better players to the MLB and make the league that much more competitive. But first, Darvish must prove that he is worth the money.

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