It's something I've been thinking about for awhile, especially in light of the news of Masahiro Tanaka's massive $155 million deal with the New York Yankees: What about the future of Yu Darvish?
To be clear, Darvish is still locked up at least through 2016, and at a bargain price. However -- and apparently I'm not alone in this as Jamey Newberg echoed some of the same this morning -- I can't help but wonder if the Rangers would be smart in proactively locking Darvish up on a longer-term and more lucrative deal. Not Kershaw money, but something more than $10 million a season. I get that the actual investment is viewed as higher because of the posting fee, but the fact remains that Darvish doesn't see that portion, and in a certain sense, keeping the franchise pitcher happy is a matter of importance.
That Tanaka is already making more than Darvish is only part of the problem. The other part is that the going rate for pitching seems to only go up as teams hash out lucrative television deals and the like. Perhaps assuring that Darvish never has the chance to hit the market in 2017 becomes an issue at the front of Jon Daniels's mind, because let's be clear: seeing Darvish hit the market in 2017 means he's pitched at an elite level, which is something the franchise wants.
At the very last, the fact that Darvish drives television ratings and attendance numbers as much as any elite player in baseball makes him a valuable commodity, more so than just W-L totals. Barring any sort of significant injury, it seems more likely than not that Darvish will continue to pitch at a high level and show flashes of brilliance that keep fans glued to their seats, whether at the ballpark or at home.
Maybe this comes across as the rambling of a mad man, but for the life of me, I can't think of any good reason to not ensure Darvish remains in a Rangers uniform beyond 2016 and even 2017. Perhaps the naming rights to the ballpark are sold to free up some cash to make a deal happen, or maybe the franchise is content with the current deal with Darvish. Whatever the case, any doubt about the transition from Japan to Major League Baseball has been erased with premiere performance over the past two seasons, and I tend to enjoy seeing those things rewarded proactively as opposed to getting into a bidding war on the free agent market somewhere down the road.