I’m sure some Texas Rangers’ fans will find this conversation a bit premature.
But when you consider the epic disaster the 2014 season has been, the Rangers need to start planning for the future. And there’s no more critical building block for the future of this franchise than Yu Darvish.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be pitching in Arlington.
OK, OK, I know – that’s a jarring statement, so just take a moment to regroup … it’s alright, I can wait … OK, are you ready to continue?
Here are the facts as we know them.
Darvish is under contract with the Rangers through 2017, but can opt out after 2016 if he either wins a Cy Young in the next three years or places top two in the Cy Young voting twice over the next three years. Both seem like reasonably achievable goals, so let’s go off the conceit Darvish will be a free agent after the 2016 season.
At that point, Darvish will be 30 years, 3 months old – that is two months older than Detroit Tigers’ ace Justin Verlander was last year when he signed his contract extension, which was eight years for $202 million (when the vesting option is included). Keep in mind, contract values don’t go down as the years go on – so by the time we get to the end of 2016, I believe it will take an eight-year, $248 million contract to keep or (for another team) gain Darvish’s services.
Think $31 million per year is ridiculous? Keep in mind Tigers’ pitcher Max Scherzer recently turned down a contract offer worth $24 million per year.
So, would the Rangers be wise to make such a deal with Darvish?
Well, take a look at the last several mega contracts handed out to pitchers. There’s the deal for Mike Hampton (Colorado Rockies) – which looks like one of the worst baseball contracts handed out in the last 20 years; there’s Barry Zito (San Francisco Giants) – whose deal looks even worse than Hampton’s; and then there’s Johan Santana (New York Mets) – who actually looks like the worst overall value of the bunch. And don’t forget the most recent budget busters (CC Sabathia and Verlander) – both of which quickly lost velocity, with the former already on the DL and the latter likely to join him there soon.
But let’s say the Rangers ignore all that precedent. Then, the question becomes would the Rangers make an eight-year, $248-million investment?
Of course everyone knows the biggest contract Texas has ever doled out is the 10-year, $252-million pact with Alex Rodriguez. But, outside of that debacle, the next biggest deal from the Rangers is the seven-year, $130-million contract for Shin-Soo Choo. So, would the club be willing to go more than $100 million higher for Darvish?
Because if there is any hesitation or doubt on the Rangers’ part, it’s time to start thinking about making a deal.
The Rangers are always hyping up their farm system, yet there is a dearth of high-level (Double-A, Triple-A) prospects ready to join the big-league club. Trading Darvish would hurt for sure (both on the field and in terms of fan confidence) but would also provide an injection of younger talent ready or almost ready for the Major Leagues.
I’m sure plenty of Rangers’ fans will balk at this idea, but sometimes you have to take a step back before taking two steps forward – and dealing Darvish at the 2015 trading deadline might just be the unconventional route to get this club (and all of its fans) exactly where they want to be.
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