Japanese star Yu Darvish signs with Rangers (updated)

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Jan. 18 Update: Darvish has signed a six-year $60-million deal, according to ESPN.

By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor

One of Japan’s most successful professional pitchers just might be on his way to Major League Baseball as the Texas Rangers have won the bidding rights for Yu Darvish of the NPB’s Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters and now have 30 days to sign him to a big-league deal.

In the past five seasons, the 6-foot-5 right-hander has compiled a 76-28 record with a 1.72 ERA and 1,083 strikeouts in 1,024-plus innings of work. The Rangers bid? A record $51.7 million — for the right to try and sign him.

His 2005 BBM Japanese Rookie Cards have been consistent sellers of late, but his hottest cards should already be recognizable to American collectors as he appears on nearly 80 cards made by Topps for the World Baseball Classic in its 2009 products.

In all, the Japan’s WBC ace appeared on 77 cards with a total value of $1,765 for those not too rare to price. Of the 77 cards, 63 are serial-numbered and 23 of them feature game-used memorabilia pieces from the WBC.

In recent completed sales, his 1/1 2009 Bowman Sterling World Baseball Classic Relic Red Refractor sold for $1,500, while a 2009 Bowman Sterling WBC Relic card with a patch piece fetched $347.

Meanwhile, a BGS 9.5 copy of his 2009 WBC Prospects Bowman Chrome Gold Refractor /50 sold for $306 and several other Topps rarities from 2009 have routinely fetched $100 and up — before his MLB rights were even known.

Coming to Amerca? Japan's Yu Darvish

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Yu Darvish: What interests you more?

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Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball magazine. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an email to him at colds@beckett.com. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.


  1. Richard
    Posted December 20, 2011 at 1:54 am | Permalink

    This bid system is idiotic. The Japanese club gets all the money and the player gets squat.
    Now, in addition to the 50 million paid to the club they need to come up with at least that much
    to sign him. I’m sure he is good, perhaps very good, but how will he fare against pros here.
    Japan is kind of like AAA at their top level. For a $100 million investment this guy better not turn into Hideki Irabu.

  2. chrisolds
    Posted December 20, 2011 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    It’s the same as draft rights — difference is that the team gets paid if the player is lost to an MLB team, unlike U.S. draft picks, which are just eligible to be drafted again the following year if they do not sign. Makes sense to me since the player is already a professional — it’s a “buyout” of sorts for his current pro contract.

  3. Richard
    Posted December 20, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    Except in America we have free agency or we can quit one business and join another.
    I don’t mind that a team gets compensated, but this is silly. The team gets money regardless
    and the player is effectively robbed of potential money that could have been paid to him.

    Limit the payout to the earning that the player got from the team over his career.
    That way they end up having the benefit of having had him all that time for “free”.

  4. chrisolds
    Posted December 20, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    When J.D. Drew was drafted No. 2 overall by the Phillies and did not sign, he could not be signed with another MLB team until the following year when he was drafted again — by the Cardinals. He was forced to play independent MiLB ball before being re-drafted.

  5. Posted January 19, 2012 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    this is one reason why MLB has gone in the dump, 50 million just to talk, plus his salary if he signs, i think i should be givin 2.3 million for responing to this, LOL. its just a cost that will be passed on to the fans, yes he has a great record, but 1 injury and he will be riding the bench,

  6. chrisolds
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    Charles: The $50 million posting fee is to pay his Japanese pro contract off so it can be canceled and he can negotiate with an MLB team.

  7. Keith
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    Hey guys, the way the posting fee works is, it is only paid if the Rangers can come to an agreement to sign him. If they don’t, it doesn’t cost them the 50 million. The posting fee is to his current club to basically get him released from his contract. Bottom line is if the Rangers do want to sign him, it will cost them 50 million plus whatever his contract is for. If they don’t get him signed for at least 5 years, i would guess that they will not do anything since 5 years already costs them 10 million per year before they add in the contract dollars. Pretty high price tag for a pitcher that has no MLB experience.

  8. Terry Chan
    Posted January 21, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Brian Kong is my favorite sports card sketch artist. He has great vision and captures the moments exceptionally.

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