The Yu Darvish Contract

Before I start let me make a few things clear:

1. I am in no way against the contract that Yu Darvish signed with Texas.

2. I am not anti-Yu.

3. I still wish that the Blue Jays had signed Darvish.

4. I am not writing this because I’m angry with Toronto, or Texas, or Yu for what happened.

Now that that’s said….

I sent out a simple tweet yesterday that generated some responses, and those responses have in turn lead me to write this post.

I tweeted this:

Again – I’m not saying that $60-million is the wrong number for Darvish. It might be too high, it might even be too low – a steal for Texas. Who knows? All I’m saying is that this $60-million contract (plus a $51-million posting fee, bringing the total to $111 million) is essentially going to a pitcher who has never thrown a pitch in the major leagues.

Very few pitchers have ever eclipsed the $100-million mark, and those that have have brought with them a nice track record of Cy Young awards and/or playoff/regular season success. Some of those contracts turned out bad (hello Mike Hampton and Barry Zito), but at least they were based on previous success.

Let me reiterate that Yu Darvish has never thrown a pitch in a major league game.

What really struck me when the deal was announced, and what was the main driving force behind my tweet, was that nobody seemed to care about that fact. There was no outrage. Let me bring up something from a few years ago. Remember back in the summer of 2009 when a highly touted pitcher was taken first overall in the MLB draft? In August, that pitcher was signed to a four year $15.1-million contract. I remember baseball pundits and fans

being mind-boggled that any team would give a player who had never played in the big leagues that much money.

That player was obviously Stephen Strasburg, and that contract is obviously much, much less than what Darvish received.

As I said in the tweet, besides a few more years pitched and a stronger arm, what is the difference between those two? Why was nobody shocked/angered/bewildered by the Darvish money?

Is it because he’s older? Is it because the signing of a Japanese pitcher to crazy money has been done before? One responder said that he thought it was a good deal because Darvish had faced MLB talent before. But has he? In the 2009 World Baseball Classic, Darvish came into pitch the 9th inning against the USA in the semi-final game with a 5-run lead. Here is how he fared:

– Derek Jeter grounded out

– Jimmy Rollins singled

– David Wright struck out

– Adam Dunn struck out

To me it looks like Darvish has indeed faced MLB talent – four players in a pre-season exhibition tournament, none of who were in anything near peak game shape (plus anybody can strike out Adam Dunn. It’s been proven.) That’s it. And he gave up a hit.

Yes I know that is a small sample size, and maybe he would have dominated the USA in a full game with players in mid-season form. But…maybe he wouldn’t have.

Look – Darvish’s numbers speak for themselves. He went 2-1 with a 2.08 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 13 innings in the WBC. He has posted a sub 1.90 ERA and sub 1.05 WHIP in five straight seaons in Japan, eclipsing 200 K in four of those. But just as people were wondering if Strasburg’s dominance against college hitters would translate to the majors, it also must be asked if Darvish’s dominance of Japanese hitters will translate.

The Rangers are betting $111-million that it will.

And nobody seems to care.

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