Over the next 30 days Yu Darvish and his agent will be negotiating a contract with the Texas Rangers who paid a record 51.7M to the Nippon Ham Fighters for the right to negotiate with Darvish. If Darvish and the Rangers can’t come to terms, the Nippon Ham Fighters don’t get the money and Darvish doesn’t play in the US in 2012. People speculate that Darvish will ask for 75M over 6 years and that is where a lot of debate has arisen. There is no doubt Darvish is a great pitcher but is he that great. At more than 125M over 6 years (if you include the negotiation fee) Darvish will be the third highest paid pitcher in the US, higher paid than last years Cy Young Award and MVP winner, Justin Verlander.
It is clear he has been the best pitcher in Japan for the last several years. While I was in Japan, I had the opportunity to see Darvish pitch for Nippon Ham a bit on TV. He is that great. I would say he is, or at least will be after getting used to his new surroundings, a top ten pitcher, in the world. He’s 6’5″, 220lbs and at the age of 25 he has youth on his side; bringing athleticism and durability to a position that previous Japanese pitchers lacked. Darvish also boasts a bevvy of pitches.
• 90-96 MPH 4-seam fastball
• 90-93 MPH 2-seam fastball which resembles a shuuto, a pitch throw by some Japanese right-handed pitchers that tends to break down and in against right-handed batters
• 90-92 MPH cutter
• 85-ish MPH horizontally breaking slider
• Low 80s downward-breaking slider, which looks more like a power curve
• 65-70 MPH curveball
All with excellent movement according to Japanese baseball expert Patrick Newman in an interview with Grantland. Yu Darvish has pretty much dominated the NPB (Japanese Baseball League). From 2005 to 2011, he went 93-38 with a 1.99 ERA and 1259 strikeouts. He has helped his team in Japan, the Nippon Ham Fighters reach the Nippon Series (the Japanese equivalent of MLB’s World Series) three times 2006, 2007, and 2009; the Fighters won it in 2006.
Between his athleticism, championship experience, and pitching prowess, Darvish is worth every cent. Pitching wins championships and the Texas Rangers will win with Yu Darvish.