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.
After 18 years, 12 winning seasons, seven postseason runs and three World Championships, Dave Righetti is no longer a pitching coach for the Giants. He was removed from his post on Saturday, when the team announced a few reassignments as they shake up their coaching staff. Heading into the 2018 season, Righetti will serve as special assistant to general manager Bobby Evans, former bullpen coach Mark Gardner will step into a similar special assistant role to “assist in pitching evaluations,” and former assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will take a special assistant role in baseball operations.
According to MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Righetti was the longest-tenured pitching coach in the big leagues. He helped shape the careers of notable Giants’ aces like Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain — all Cy Young contenders (and, in Lincecum’s case, a two-time winner) at various points in their careers. He was there to assist Ryan Vogelsong during his stunning mid-career comeback in San Francisco. He helped newcomers like Chris Stratton and Ty Blach flourish even as the team stumbled to the bottom of the division. He was there to take the credit when a sterling rotation clinched the Giants’ 56-year, drought-snapping championship title in 2010 — and, when things went so horribly south in 2017, he took the blame as well.
Hardly anything went right for the Giants’ pitching staff in 2017. Madison Bumgarner was shelved after sustaining a serious shoulder injury in a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto couldn’t shake a cluster of blisters on his right hand and Mark Melancon found it difficult to justify a $62 million paycheck after pitching through an arm injury to four blown losses/saves and a 4.50 ERA. It would be a lot for any pitching coach to stay on top of, and given the team’s rapid descent from 2016 postseason contenders to last-place finishers in 2017, it’s not surprising that Evans felt the need to switch things up.
Successors have yet to be named for Righetti, Gardner or Decker, though Murray hears that the Giants could have interest in former major league pitching coach Jim Hickey. NBC Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic adds that Evans is searching for someone to “put a new voice” on the pitching staff and will likely target someone who, like Righetti, brings considerable experience to the role.