It is a done deal. The Texas Rangers have signed Yu Darvish to a six-year deal worth US$60M.
Today, I have officially signed with the Texas Rangers.
I think I will hold a press conference in the US first and then hold one in Hokkaido upon my return.
That is when I would like to thank the Fighters' fans, the people of Japan, for all their support.
Sponichi mentions that his press conference will likely come some time after the 20th, since his workouts in Miyazaki last until then, and that the uniform number 11 is a possibility. They also note that Rangers' GM Jon Daniels arrived at the Rangers Ballpark at around 9:50am on 1/17, followed by Arn Tellem and Don Nomura at 10:24am; total negotiation time since 1/16: 13 hours and 30 minutes.
Nikkan Sports posted the following brief timeline of events:
10/29 - Starts Climax Series game against Seibu. Leaves gave after allowing one run over seven innings; team loses in extra innings.
12/8 - Darvish informs fans of his decision via his personal blog.
12/9 - Bidding begins.
12/15 - Bidding ends. Rangers, Blue Jays, Yankees, and Cubs mentioned as bidders.
12/20 - Texas Rangers named as winning bidder.
1/1 - Leaves for US out of Narita.
1/2 - Visits Rangers Ballpark, meets with Nolan Ryan, Ron Washington, and other members of the organization.
1/5 - Returns to Japan.
1/15 - Negotiations down to five or six years.
1/16 - Tellem and Nomura arrive in Texas for negotiations.
Nikkan Sports is also reporting that his divorce will be finalized today as well.
UPDATE @ 9:56am - Nikkan Sports has posted comments from the following people:
I think [Darvish] will manage to mix in quicker than other Japanese players since he is used to foreign cultures. He is really happy about signing with the team and has said he will do his best.
[Darvish] is a great signing. Yu does not have any experience in the Majors yet, but we feel he has the ability to do well on the MLB stage. His addition to our young staff will provide more stability and make us a competitive team. He will help this team.
I am happy we were able to sign [Darvish]. He is a talent young individual with a bright future. I sure he will do well right from the start. I do not want him to push himself too hard beginning with Spring Training. He is big and has a good fastball and off-speed pitches. He is a special pitcher. He is not your average Japanese pitcher; he is also not someone you can easily find in the Majors either.
UPDATE @ 10:55am - Sponichi and Nikkan Sports have posted comments from the following people:
The Rangers had been keeping track of Darvish over the last few years and relationship they built up through their scouts was a big factor for him and his family. ... The Rangers have their eye on winning a World Series and Darvish is excited about taking part in the challenge.
It has been seven years since [Darvish] joined our team and we are extremely grateful for what he brought to our organization. We would like to watch over him, with the rest of the fans, as he takes on this next challenge [in his life] and we believe that his strong ambitions will also help him reach the top in the Majors.
Regarding the bid money: We would like [to use the bid] to help improve our team in the best way possible and will consider all kinds of possibilities.
UPDATE @ 1:09pm - Darvish worked out behind closed doors in Miyazaki today -- media requests are not being accepted by the Nippon Ham Fighters until after the press conference.
The Rangers held a press conference at 6pm EST and the 80 or so seats they had available were quickly filled; there were also about 20 TV cameras providing coverage.
UPDATE @ 3:27pm - Some more comments...
[Darvish] signed a big deal and he is one of Japan's best. I want to see him go crazy over there and show the Majors what Japanese men are made of.
I look forward to watching [Darvish] pitch up close. I am happy that we will be teammates again.
I look forward to playing on the same team and working towards a World Series Championship.
I understood this was going to happen when I accepted the managerial job. ... I want to see [Darvish] take the bull by its horns. He should be recognized even more. The Rangers are a team that can score runs. I think he can win at least 18 games, 20 if things go well.
Somewhere inside I was hoping [Darvish] would return, I will secretly cheer him on. I expect him to remain in the rotation a full year and win at least 15 games.
I am obviously sad, but I want to support Darvish and his decision to play in the Majors. I want to see him success, not just for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, but also for Japanese baseball world.
UPDATE @ 5:53pm - More comments...
When [Darvish] was pre-announced as a starter you knew you would see him pitch the next day. It is a little sad that one of the players fans loved to watch is now leaving.
Nippon Ham Fighters' Shinya Tsuruoka (caught many of Darvish's games):
This is wonderful news. I want him to work hard and lead the league in victories. ... [His salary] is amazing. I am sure it is tied directly into what he is worth.
UPDATE @ 7:46pm - More updates...
The deal guarantees Darvish $56 million, with $4 million available in roster bonuses and another lump sum to be had if he wins a Cy Young Award.
Darvish can also opt out of the deal after five years and become a free agent if he meets a list of demanding performance thresholds, Daniels said.
Also included in the contract is an interpreter and a trainer, but that was the extent of the personal touches he wanted included in the deal.
Sponichi reports that the media received fax messages from companies representing Darvish and his ex-wife, Saeko, stating that the two formally file divorce papers today after lengthy discussions about their futures. Saeko gets full custody of their two children. Both Darvish and Saeko are also planning to post updates to their respective blogs at 8pm.
Don Nomura told reporters that discussions really came down to the wire: "At one point, with about three minutes remaining, I thought talks were going to break down."
UPDATE @ 8:27pm - Another comment...
I received an update this morning. The Rangers are a team that Bobby Valentine once managed and Nolan Ryan is the president of. I think they are a team familiar to people in Japan because of Uehara and Tateyama. I personally met Nolan Ryan in 2009 and he showed me around their stadium. Now that the decision for him to a join a new team has been finalized, I hope Darvish helps them win the World Series they missed out on last season. I am sure Darvish will make it in the Majors since he is an upstanding individual who is devoted to practicing and has sincere feelings for the game of baseball.