Questions About Yu Darvish

December 20, 2011

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Last night, the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters formally accepted an $51.7 offer from the Texas Rangers. This gives the Rangers an exclusive 30 day window to negotiate a contract with Darvish.

But didn’t Darvish get $51.7 million?

No, his team got $51.7 million.  More accurately, his team gets $51.7 million if Darvish and the Rangers reach an agreement.  If Darvish doesn’t sign with the Rangers, the Fighters get nothing.

Why is the team getting fifty million bucks?  Because they are allowing Darvish to leave with two years remaining on his contract.  They are being compensated for the loss of his services.

How much will Yu get?

Almost certainly in excess of $50 million, as he has a strong desire to surpass the deal Daisuke Matsuzaka signed with the Boston Red Sox.  It’s quite possible that he will end up signing a six year deal worth around $75 million, bring the total cost to the Rangers to around $125 million.

I’d be very surprised if the length of the deal was shorter than six years, as six years would buy out Yu’s arbitration years.

Can the Fighters help?

If Darvish and the Rangers end up a few million dollars apart, the logical thing would be for the Fighters to kick in the extra cash to make sure the deal gets done – otherwise they’d risk losing the $51.7 million fee.

However, this is not allowed.

Is he worth the money?

That’s the $125 million question.  Japanese pitchers have had a spotty performance record in MLB.  Part of this is due to the fact that it can be difficult to judge talent when they are playing against Japanese hitters who are a notch below MLB players (but still very good players).  Also, Japan uses smaller baseballs than the US, so there’s an actual physical adjustment.

There are inevitable comparisons to Matsuzaka, but I think Darvish stands to be a better pitcher in MLB than Matsuzaka.  Althought Matsuzaka’s numbers in Japan were very good (108-60, 2.95 ERA), Darvish has been phenomenal, with a 93-38 record and a 1.99 ERA.  Darvish, at 6’5″, is also nearly a half foot taller than Matsuzaka.  (If that seems really tall for a Japanese player, it might be worth pointing out the fact that Yu’s dad is from Iran).

What this all boils down to is that Darvish will likely cost the Rangers a total of $16 to $20 million per year for the duration of his contract (counting the money paid to Darvish and well as the money paid to the Fighters.)  That’s a lot of money, but there won’t be any other cost associated with the signing.  They won’t have to give up prospects in a trade, surrender draft picks by signing a free agent, or even use their own draft pick on him. 

The Rangers were trying to plug the hole left by the departure of C.J. Wilson.  With the acquisition of closer Joe Nathan allowing Neftali Feliz to join the rotation, and now the possible addition of Darvish to the mix, the Rangers should again be a force to be reckoned with – although the Angels, fortified by the addition of Wilson as well as Albert Pujols, should also be a great team.

What’s a Ham Fighter?

The Ham Fighter is a cornerstone of Japanese mythology.  The ham fighter is a pig who takes a sword and shield into battle alongside brave samurai …

Are you believing any of this?  No?

OK, let’s look at the team’s name: Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters.

  • Hokkaido – This is the location of the team.  Hokkaido is the norternmost of Japans four largest islands.
  • Nippon Ham – This is the company that owns the team.  They sell meat, most notably ham. Nippon is Japanese for “Japan”.
  • Fighters – This is the team’s name, equivalent to “Cubs” or “Yankees” for MLB teams.  Calling the team the Ham Fighters is just silly.

How much will Yu’s wife get?

Yu is in the midst of a divorce.  However, I know nothing about Japanese divorce law, so I have no idea how much his wife could get.

Can I buy a “I heart Yu” shirt?


I Love Yu shirt
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