With the 30-day negotiating window set to expire this afternoon Yu Darvish and the Rangers have agreed to a six-year contract that will bring the Japanese phenom to Texas, with Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reporting that the deal is worth $60 million with an additional $10 million in potential incentives.
Last month the Rangers bid $51,703,411 for exclusive negotiating rights to Darvish, who at age 25 has won two Pacific League MVP awards and is 93-38 with a 1.99 ERA in seven seasons.
That posting fee goes to Darvish’s old team, the Nippon-Ham Fighters. Had the two sides not reached an agreement on a contract the Rangers would have been refunded the entire amount and Darvish would have remained in Japan for this season.
With a total investment of nearly $112 million the Rangers are paying about 10 percent more for Darvish than the Red Sox did for Daisuke Matsuzaka in 2006, when they spent $51,111,111 on the posting fee and signed him to a six-year, $52 million contract. Matsuzaka has been a disappointment in Boston with a 4.25 ERA in 105 starts while struggling with injuries and control, but Darvish is generally considered a better, higher-upside pitcher than Matsuzaka was in 2006.
Darvish essentially replaces C.J. Wilson in the Rangers’ rotation for about $34 million more, although with Neftali Feliz expected to become a starter after two years as Texas’ closer one of Alexi Ogando, Matt Harrison, or Derek Holland is bullpen bound. Ogando, who spent his rookie season as a full-time reliever before having success as a starter last year, has already said he’d be willing to move back to the bullpen to make room for Darvish.
Former first base and infield coach Nick Leyva was promoted to senior advisor of baseball operations on Saturday, per a report by Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Pirates also fired third base coach Rick Sofield, with no named successor as of yet.
Leyva joined the Pirates’ organization in the 2011 offseason as a third base coach under manager Clint Hurdle. He shifted to his role as the first base coach and infield coach in 2014, when first base coach Rick Sofield was reassigned to third base prior to the 2015 season. According to Biertempfel, the swap was made in order to optimize the team’s baserunning strategies, all of which appeared to fall flat during the 2015 and 2016 seasons:
The results this season were awful. The Pirates ranked 13th in the National League with a minus-7.0 BsR — a FanGraphs.com metric that measures how many runs above or below league average a team gets via its baserunning.
In 2013 and 2014, the Pirates had one of the top five BsR ratings in the NL. In 2015, they were seventh with a 2.8 BsR.
This season, the Pirates made the second-most outs at third base in the league and were last in taking extra bases on singles and doubles. Their baserunners went from first to third base on hits a league-low 63 times.
Sofield, in particular, highlighted the Pirates’ poor baserunning choices in games like this one, when he sent Sean Rodriguez home too early during the last vestige of a ninth inning rally against the Phillies.
Following the announcement, Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington issued a statement elaborating on Leyva’s role within the organization:
We have great respect and appreciation for both men. We thank them for their time and effort as part of our Major League team and the Pirates organization. It was a difficult decision, but we felt it was the right time to make this change on our Major League staff. We look forward to Nick’s continued impact in his future role with the Pirates. Nick has held nearly every coaching position at the major league level and at the minor league level, including Major League manager, in his extensive career and will be a quality mentor for our minor league managers, coaches and players.
With Game 6 of the NLCS just hours away, the Dodgers will opt for a lefty-heavy lineup against right-hander Kyle Hendricks. Batting leadoff is rookie outfielder Andrew Toles, who made one appearance at the top of the lineup during the 2016 season. The Cubs, meanwhile, will bench Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.. This will be Almora’s first start of the playoffs, and while he has yet to face Kershaw in October, his right-handed bat could play well against the lefty at the bottom of the lineup.
Game time is scheduled for 8 PM EDT; lineups are below.
1. Andrew Toles (L) LF
6. Wilson Contreras (R) C
8. Albert Almora Jr. (R) RF
9. Kyle Hendricks (R) RHP