Yesterday, Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish signed a six-year, $60 million contract with the Texas Rangers. The Rangers also paid a posting fee of $51.7 million to the Nippon Ham Fighters, the team Darvish toiled with for seven seasons. Darvish went 93-38 with a sterling 1.99 ERA in Nippon Professional Baseball.
Of course, NPB isn’t MLB. In fact, it’s often described as being above Triple A but not quite big league. So whether Darvish’s results in Japan will translate here very much remain to be seen. It’s been a very mixed bag for Japanese starting pitchers. While Hideo Nomo won 123 games and did strike out nearly 2,000 batters in part of 12 big league seasons, he could be absolutely awful at times. The experiences of the late Hideki Irabu, Kei Igawa and Masato Yoshii have been far more typical. Although Daisuke “Dice-K” Matsuzaka did earn a World Series ring with the Boston Red Sox in 2007, I think Red Sox management regrets the $100 million they dished out for him.
But Darwish isn’t your typical Japanese pitcher nor is he typically Japanese. While Darwish’s mother is Japanese, his father is Iranian. Darwish is also much taller than most Japanese standing at 6,5. He is far more of a power pitcher than his contemporaries. So he will be interesting to watch. Will be worth the $111 million the Rangers paid him and the Nippon Ham Fighters? We’ll see.