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.
Matt Williams was voted the National League Manager of the Year on November 11, 2014, receiving 18 of 30 first-place votes from Baseball Writers Association of America members.
Today the Nationals fired him following a season full of disappointment, reports of clubhouse discontent, and Jonathan Papelbon choking Bryce Harper in the dugout.
Williams went 179-145 (.552) in two seasons in Washington, which is an excellent winning percentage, but when you take over a stacked team the expectations are extremely high and there was seemingly nothing anyone could point to about his actual managing that suggested he was doing a good job.
His in-game tactics and particularly his rigid bullpen usage patterns infuriated fans. His dealings with the local media became increasingly antagonistic. And even setting aside two players literally fighting in the dugout there’s ample evidence that Williams lost the clubhouse a long time ago.
Williams was far from the only thing wrong with the Nationals this season and he’s hardly the primary person to blame for their disappointing record, but it’s also hard to make a strong case for his sticking around–meaningless, beat writer-voted award or not–and general manager Mike Rizzo predictably acted quickly to move on.
Now we’ll see who gets to take the next crack at managing the Nationals to play up to expectations.
Dan Haren, who said two months ago that he was leaning toward retiring after the season, reiterated those plans following the Cubs’ regular season finale Sunday.
At age 34 he started 32 games for the Marlins and Cubs with a 3.60 ERA and 132/38 K/BB ratio in 187 innings, so Haren would have no problem finding work and a solid paycheck for 2016.
However, he’s not expected to part of the Cubs’ playoff roster and told Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago:
That was it for me. If I have to pitch in the postseason, I’ll be ready for sure. Happy the way the last few starts have gone. Being able to contribute to this amazing team. I’m just thankful to be a part of it. If I don’t pitch in the postseason, that’s it. It’s been fun. Hopefully there’s a lot more games to go. … If my name is called, I’ll be ready.
Injuries has lessened Haren’s overall effectiveness in recent years, but he’s remained a solid mid-rotation starter and has pitched 13 seasons in the big leagues with a 3.75 ERA in 2,419 innings. He made three All-Star teams and earned more than $80 million.