Yu Darvish is no longer a Ranger as he was traded to the Dodgers ahead of Monday’s 4 PM ET non-waiver trade deadline. The Rangers received prospects Willie Calhoun, A.J. Alexy, and Brendon Davis for the right-hander.
Darvish, soon 31 years old, signed a six-year, $56 million contract with the Rangers in January 2012. Over parts of five seasons, he won 52 games with a 3.42 ERA as well as 960 strikeouts and 294 walks over 782 2/3 innings. He had one good start in the playoffs (the 2012 AL Wild Card game against the Orioles) and one bad start (Game 2 of the 2016 ALDS against the Blue Jays).
Darvish thanked Rangers fans for supporting him in his tenure in Texas with a full-page ad in the Dallas Morning News. He wrote:
Thank you very much for the past 5.5 years since 2012.
Coming from Japan, I could not have adjusted to the new environment if it weren’t for all the courteous fans, teammates, team staff and all affiliates who supported me. It is my biggest regret that I gave up 10 runs in my last outing as a Ranger.
There were a small number of voices that said, “Darvish only cares about strikeouts.” Although I may have had strikeouts in my mind, fans, team, teammates and team staff were always my top priority.
Thank you very much for everything!
Please take care!
Darvish is set to make his Dodgers debut on Friday against the Mets at Citi Field.
The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.
Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.
Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”
Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.
The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.