According to reports filed by Sponichi, the New York Yankees interested Masahiro Tanaka (Rakuten). A number of other other MLB teams -- like the Baltimore Orioles, Texas Rangers, San Francisco Giants, and Los Angeles Dodgers -- are also said to be in the hunt for the right-handed ace.
The Yankees have been keeping an eye on Tanaka since 2010. Their Japan scout, Shoichi Kida, has been keeping the organization updated on Tanaka's status.
Source: Sponichi 1/4/2013
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.
Some minor updates on the Yu Darvish front...
Club officials and the agents for Yu Darvish worked late into the night Tuesday in an attempt put the finishing touches on a deal that would put the Japanese star pitcher in a Texas Rangers uniform.
Joining the agents and club brass were an estimated 20 media members from Japan. They stood outside the center-field offices doing what everyone else seems to be doing -- waiting in the dark -- before the Rangers showed some goodwill by allowing the group into the lobby and supplying them with pizza and beer.
They are convinced, said the source, that Darvish wants to make the jump from Nippon Professional Baseball in a Rangers uniform. But his agents have cautioned media outlets in Japan throughout the process that Darvish could very well be back with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in 2012 and be posted again in November.
At this moment, they still have 81/2 hours to get it done.
The word this morning is the Rangers optimism has waned a bit. The two sides negotiated late into the night and there are definitely still some differences that have cooled the Rangers optimism.
As of this post, the Rangers will have seven hours to work out a deal (January 18 at 5pm EST or January 19 at 7am JST).
UPDATE @ 4:09am - A series of tweets from a number of reporters...
FoxSports.com's Jon Morosi:
#Rangers and Yu Darvish are still working on details, but they are making good progress. Four hours to deadline. [link]
Source: #Rangers, Yu Darvish now "close" to reaching deal. [link]
CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler:
Rangers are indeed close on deal with Darvish, as @jonmorosi wrote. Not done yet, but both sides intent on getting deal by deadline today [link]
CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman:
Rangers and darvish/tellem working hard (via @DKnobler). All anticipation is it gets done. team wants 6 year deal [link]
darvish deal will get done, sources say. [link]
Darvish agreement with #rangers expected to be 6 years. #rangers [link]
Less than three hours to the deadline...
The Milwaukee Brewers announced that they signed Norichika Aoki to a two-year deal with a club option for 2014. From an official press release:
The Milwaukee Brewers today signed outfielder Norichika Aoki to a two-year contract with a club option for 2014. The announcement was made by Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Melvin.
Aoki will be introduced to the media at a date and time to be determined.
UPDATE @ 9:39am - Sponichi mentions that the deal could be for around US$1M - 1.5M a year. A separate Sponichi report notes that Nez Balelo may have convinced the Brewers to bid for Aoki by telling them that he was a quality player that would not be expecting a lot of money.
According to FoxSports' Jon Paul Morosi, the Texas Rangers feel pretty good about their chances of signing Yu Darvish.
The Associated Press reports that Nolan Ryan said he felt confident the team would sign Darvish before the deadline during the team's annual winter banquet.
Sponichi notes that the Rangers reportedly offer Darvish a six year deal worth about US$8.5M (or ~654M yen) while Darvish is pushing for a five year deal worth around US$15M (or ~1.15B yen).
"His abilities are just as good as the abilities we have here," Washington said. "The whole key, if we end up signing him, is for him just to be Yu Darvish. We’re not expecting him to put us on his shoulder. We’re not expecting him to do anything special."
"If you're able to throw strikes, pound the strike zone and get guys out, it doesn't matter what league you play in," Lewis said. "He has overpowering stuff, especially in that league. That was the big thing that stood out to me, his fastball command."
Sponichi mentions that two other Japanese players have been gifted western (cowboy) boots in the past. Koji Uehara received a pair from teammate Jamie Walker in 2009 and Kazuo Matsui was given a pair, plus a cowboy hat, from Drayton McLane in 2008.
The Rangers have until 1/18 at 5pm (or 1/19 at 7am) to finalize a deal with Darvish.
UPDATE @ 1:02pm - The Star Telegram's Jeff Wilson has posted the following update:
"My expectations are that we'll get something done," Ryan said. "It's a process. During the period that we negotiate with someone we really don't talk about it, but I'm optimistic we'll get something done."
Ryan is also anticipating that the negotiations will go down to the wire because "that's the nature of these things," he said. "We'll just have to see how it works."
MLB.com's Adam McCalvy has the following update on Norichika Aoki:
There have been varied reports about Aoki's salary last season, but the Brewers' understanding is that he earned less than $3 million. If the club moves forward with negotiations, Melvin would much prefer a one-year deal to see how Aoki's skills translate to the Major Leagues.
Aoki would no doubt prefer a multi-year deal for making the move to the U.S., a common request for players shifting their careers from Japan. As of the start of this offseason, all eight of the players who were posted and signed with Major League teams since the current system was implemented in 1998 received multi-year contracts (though three others inked Minor League deals). The most recent position player is shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who drew a bid from the Twins that topped $5 million and agreed to a three-year, $9 million contract.
Amongst the people that attended the workouts: Brewers GM Doug Melvin, Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio, manager Ron Roenicke, bench coach Jerry Narron, batting coach Johnny Narron, director of pro scouting Zack Minasian, and special assistant Dick Groch. Nez Balelo, an interpreter, and two other people accompanied Aoki.
Nikkan Sports, Sponichi mention that the workouts started at around 10:30am and included playing catch, long toss at about 90 meters, fielding in center with throws to third, and BP (32 swings with two shots going over the fence).
Aoki will continue his training in Los Angeles until about mid-January, leaving open the possibility a negotiation might be reached while he is still in the US.
The Brewers have until 1/17 @ 5pm (or 1/18 at 7am) to finalize a deal with Aoki.
CBSSports' Joh Heyman is reporting that the Texas Rangers are offering Yu Darvish "Dice K money" and that there is still no deal. A snip:
The expression "Dice K money'' would mean the offer is someone (sic) in the range of $52 million, although it isn't known whether the Rangers' proposal is for exactly that amount or exactly six years, as Daisuke Matsuzaka received from the Red Sox (it may be for five). In any case, it seems clear Texas wants to use Matsuzaka's $52-million deal as a barometer for a deal, while Darvish's side apparently hopes to successfully argue that he's the better pitcher and thus deserves a higher contract. Ultimately, the Rangers may go a bit higher than Matsuzaka's contract, but the plan seems to be to keep it within shouting distance, particularly with $51.7 million committed to the posting fee, money that goes to the Nippon-Ham Fighters.
Yu Darvish began his training in Miyazaki on Friday. The media was pretty much shutout from the workouts -- the Nippon Ham Fighters asked reporters to refrain from making contact with Darvish (for interviews and photos).
Sponichi reports that talks between Darvish and the Texas Rangers are not going well -- Darvish is looking for around 1.5B yen (or US$20M) a year at five years while the Rangers' first offer may have been around 616M yen a year at six years. They also note that the two sides have yet to really start the negotiation process.
In a separate article, Sponichi wonders if Darvish has refrained from making comments to the press because he wants to make sure he can easily slide back into pitching for the Nippon Ham Fighters in 2012.
According to Nikkan Sports, the New York Yankees announced they were giving up on Hiroyuki Nakajima about three hours after he arrived in New York (he arrived at JFK Airport at around 9:32am and the announcement was made at around 12:26pm). The New York Times notes that the Yankees did not know about his trip. Newsday mentions that Nakajima was looking for a three-year deal. And Sponichi reports that Nakajima was apparently fine with both the money and his role as back-up; the problem was that Nakajima wanted to become an FA after the year while the Yanks wanted to hold onto his rights for the next six years.
Nakajima could begin salary negotiations for the 2012 season with the Seibu Lions as early as next week.
The New York Yankees have failed to reach an agreement with Hiroyuki Nakajima. Via MLB.com's Bryan Hoch:
"We unfortunately could not come to an agreement with Hiroyuki," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said in a statement. "We wish him the best of luck during the upcoming 2012 season."
Nakajima is quoted as saying:
It is unfortunate we could not agree to a deal. I want to thank the Seibu Lions for posting me and the New York Yankees for placing a bid on me.