Two-time defending American League champions Texas entered the winning bid to negotiate with Japanese star pitcher Yu Darvish, Major League Baseball officials announced on Monday night.
The Rangers now have 30 days to sign Darvish, a 25-year-old right-hander, to a major league contract after the Nippon Ham Fighters of Japan’s Pacific League accepted the US team’s negotiating offer.
Darvish, who joined the Fighters in 2005 after high school, was born to an Iranian father and a Japanese mother. He was this season’s highest-paid player in Japanese baseball at an estimated ￥500 million (US$6.4 million) a season.
The Rangers, who lost to San Francisco in last year’s World Series and St Louis in this year’s edition of the best-of-seven final, beat out the New York Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays for the rights just to make a deal with Darvish.
The offer was reportedly more than the US$51 million posting fee that the Boston Red Sox paid in 2006 for the rights to negotiate with Daisuke Matsuzaka, who would sign a six-year deal for US$52 million with Boston. Darvish is likely to sign a bigger deal than the one given to Matsuzaka five years ago.
Darvish went 18-6 last season for the Hokkaido-based Fighters with a 1.44 earned-run average and 276 strikeouts in 232 innings.
Also on Monday, the Milwaukee Brewers were revealed as the top bidders for another Japanese prospect, Norichika Aoki, a three-time batting champion for the Yakult Swallows of the Central League.
ROLLINS INKS NEW DEAL
Philadelphia Phillies slugger Jimmy Rollins has signed a three-year Major League Baseball contract for US$33 million, the club announced on Monday.
The deal includes a vesting option for a fourth season at US$11 million in 2015 that could, if not vested, become a player option at US$5 million or a team option at US$8 million.
The three-time All-Star shortstop was a free agent for the first time after spending his entire career with the Phillies since being chosen in the 1996 draft.
Rollins, the 2007 National League Most Valuable Player, batted .268 with 16 home runs, 63 runs batted in and 30 steals last season.
ARIZONA SIGN KUBEL
REUTERS, LOS ANGELES
The Arizona Diamondbacks have agreed a two-year deal with free agent Jason Kubel, adding another offensive threat to their outfield.
Major League Baseball reported the deal on its Web site on Monday and Kubel will sign with the Diamondbacks for US$15 million, according to local reports.
The 29-year-old Kubel has spent his entire career with the Minnesota Twins, but he will now join an Arizona team coming off a run to the National League playoffs.
Kubel hit .273 with 12 home runs and 58 RBIs for the Twins last season to end a run of three straight campaigns with at least 20 home runs.