Yu Darvish, who was already the most hyped Japanese pitcher to ever catch the wandering eye of the major leagues, officially became the most expensive Japanese pitcher in major league history Wednesday. The Texas Rangers, who had already committed $51.7 million to the Nippon Ham Fighters for the privilege of signing their star right-hander, finalized a six-year, $60 million contract with Darvish as the minutes ticked down on the negotiating deadline.
The contract includes up to $10 million in incentives and may allow Darvish to opt out of the contract a year early if he meets certain milestones. But as a bare minimum, the Rangers are committed to an outlay of nearly $112 million over the next six years — nearly half of that due as a lump sum immediately — to a pitcher who has never pitched in the majors. The Rangers’ previous ace, C.J. Wilson, who (pitching in the hitters’ paradise that is Rangers Ballpark in Arlington) averaged 214 innings and a 3.14 ERA the last two seasons, defected to the rival Los Angeles Angels this winter. Wilson signed for five years and $77.5 million — less than 70 percent the guaranteed money Darvish will cost Texas to replace him.
The most expensive Japanese pitcher in major league history is also (if the scouts are to be believed) the best Japanese pitcher in major league history. The last time the previous sentence was written, the pitcher’s name was Daisuke Matsuzaka, and that sentence turned out to be half-true. Matsuzaka cost the Red Sox nine figures to sign — a posting fee of $51.1 million to the Seibu Lions, and $52 million to the pitcher — and for two seasons, he looked like he might be worth the money. But over the past three years, Dice-K was rarely healthy and almost never effective, averaging 83 innings a season with an ERA over 5. He blew out his elbow last June and will likely miss most, if not all, of the 2012 season. The Red Sox will be paying him $10 million anyway.