Mariners may get to see Darvish … with Rangers
Even though I never heard that the Mariners even so much as posted a bid for Yu Darvish, I’ve got to admit I was thinking right up til the last minute Monday night that maybe, just maybe, Seattle would be a surprising winner in the pursuit of the Japanese pitching star.
Yeah, the Mariners need offense more than another pitcher. And Darvish will carry a high pricetag, likely more than $100 million range by the time his bid and contract are added together.
Nobody was talking much of Seattle, with Toronto and Texas considered the front runners. Turns out that was right, with the Rangers winding up the winner … and the AL West again getting tougher if Texas manages to sign Darvish after its winning bid of a reported $51.7 million.
Should the Mariners have made a pitch for the pitcher? It’s hard to ignore that the Mariners majority owner is Hiroshi Yamauchi, the Japanese founder of Nintendo. And there is more than ample history between the Mariners and Japan, given the presence of Ichiro, Kazuhiro Sasaki and Kenji Johjima on the roster over the past 11 years.
Darvish, 25, is a two-time Pacific League MVP in Japan, where he compiled a 93-38 record with a 1.99 ERA over the past seven seasons.
Thus a bold bid by Seattle perhaps wouldn’t have been totally stunning. But the Mariners are relatively strong in pitching already with Felix Hernandez and 22-year-old All-Star Michael Pineda atop their rotation, while finishing last in the American League in scoring three straight seasons.
On that basis, spending mega-money on their strength would have seemed odd. Then again, Darvish would have further added to a Mariners rotation that could also soon include Danny Hultzen, a 22-year-old lefty who was the second overall pick in last June’s Draft out of Virginia.
Instead, Darvish now has the choice of pitching in the Texas heat or staying in Japan. The Rangers have 30 days to come to come to a contract agreement. If not, the posting fee will be returned by the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters and Darvish would be unable to pursue an MLB career until another posting process next year.
Darvish won’t be a free agent able to leave Japan without going through the posting and bid process for two more seasons.
The Red Sox posted a $51 million bid for the rights to negotiate with Daisuke Matsuzaka in 2006, then signed him to a six-year, $52 million contract.
Ichiro came at a far lower cost to the Mariners back in 2001, with Seattle giving the Orix Blue Wave a $13 million posting fee before signing him to a three-year, $14 million deal.
The A’s won a reported $19.1 million posting bid a year ago for pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma of the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, but then were unable to sign the standout right-hander during the 30-day window. Iwakuma was represented by Don Nomura, the same agent who is working with Darvish.