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.
Great moments in scouting. MLB.com’s Richard Justice spoke to an unnamed scout about the Astros, currently holding the American League’s best record at 76-47. The scout said that the Astros strike out too much and it will catch up with them. Justice pointed out that the Astros have the lowest strikeout total in baseball. The scout responded, “I don’t believe that.”
Justice, of course, is correct. The average major league team has struck out 1,006 times entering Sunday’s action. The Astros have by far the lowest total at 827, followed by the Indians at 881 and the Pirates at 882.
This scout doesn’t represent all scouts, but this is one of the major problems that advocates of statistics were trying to highlight before Sabermetrics became popular a decade ago. It’s a pattern. Person believes thing. Person either cherry-picks evidence to defend belief or is shown evidence that belief is not factually true and ignores it. Person refuses to change belief, using one of many excuses.
The other problem this highlights is the fallacy of “the eye test,” which is shorthand for treating a scout’s observations as sacrosanct due to his or her experience and knowledge of the game. In this case, the scout ignored easily accessed information, went with his gut, and turned out to be completely wrong. Furthermore, if “the eye test” were legit, the scout would’ve known that, for example, Yulieski Gurriel and Jose Altuve hardly ever strike out (11.1 and 12.4 percent strikeout rates, respectively). In fact, no one on the Astros’ roster (min. 230 PA) has a strikeout rate above 21 percent; the league average is 21.5 percent.
This isn’t to impugn the practice of scouting as a whole. There are a lot of things scouts can tell you about a player that data cannot and that has value. But for easily-researched claims like “the Astros strike out too much,” there’s no reason to trust a scout over the stats.
The Mets acquired right-handed reliever Jacob Rhame from the Dodgers, the team announced on Sunday. Rhame is the player to be named later in the trade that sent outfielder Curtis Granderson to Los Angeles on Friday night. He’s expected to report to the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate.
Rhame, 24, pitched through his second Triple-A campaign with the Oklahoma City Dodgers in 2017, collecting two saves in 41 appearances and logging a 4.31 ERA, 1.9 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 48 innings. While his ERA saw a sharp spike from its modest 3.29 mark in 2016 (perhaps thanks in part to a midseason DL stint due to an undisclosed injury), he’s controlling the ball better than he has in several years and has drawn some attention with a fastball that occasionally touches 98 MPH on the radar gun.
The Mets’ bullpen hasn’t been at its finest over the last few weeks, ranking 16th among its major league competitors with a collective 4.50 ERA and 2.4 fWAR, but likely isn’t looking to add an extreme fly ball pitcher to its staff just yet. Until he gets his big league break, Rhame will beef up Triple-A Vegas’ relief corps alongside fellow right-handers Yaisel Sierra, Joe Broussard and Josh Ravin.