Yesterday it was announced that the Texas rangers were the winners of the Yu Darvish posting, with a whopping bid of $51.7 million. Keep in mind that this figure is not a contract amount for Darvish.
In the Japanese baseball free agency rules, a player has to play nine years in Japan before becoming eligible to sign as a free agent with an MLB team. However, the player's Japanese team has the option to "post" the player. What happens is that any team with interest in acquiring that Japanese player has to submit a blind bid (not knowing what other teams have bid) on how much they are willing to pay the player's team for the exclusive rights to negotiate with that player. After the predetermined bidding period, the winning team with the highest bid is announced. In the case of Yu Darvish, the highest bidding team was the Texas Rangers with a whopping bid of $51.7 million. This doesn't mean, though, that Darvish automatically becomes a Ranger. Rather, because of their winning bid, the Rangers now have a period of thirty days to negotiate a contract with Darvish. Should they reach an agreement with Darvish, the Nippon Ham Fighters (Darvish's previous team) receives the $51.7 million from the Rangers, Darvish gets whatever money he agrees to in his contract with the Rangers, and the Rangers get Darvish.
Assuming Darvish does get something worked out with the Rangers, how good will he be? I read an interesting article on fangraphs.com comparing Darvish to the Nationals' Jordan Zimmermann. That would certainly make Darvish a great get for the Rangers. The reality is, though, that while people can take educated guesses at how Japanese players will perform in MLB, no one really knows for sure. There have been some great (Ichiro, Hiroki Kuroda, Hideki Matsui), some mediocre (Daisuke Matzsusaka, Akinori Iwamura), and some horrible (Kei Igawa).
What I think is interesting, though, is that when all things are considered, it looks like the Rangers are going to be paying more for Darvish than they would have for retaining the services of C.J. Wilson. Granted, Darvish is considerably younger than Wilson, but there are a lot of risks here with the unknown. But after Wilson's postseason struggles, the Rangers decided that they preferred what they didn't know about Darvish to what they did know about Wilson.