Rangers emerge as top bidder for negotiating rights to Darvish
The highest posting bid for Japanese righthander Yu Darvish was submitted by the Rangers, as announced last night by the pitcher’s former team, the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, and Texas now has 30 days to sign the 25-year-old to a contract.
According to the New York Times, the Rangers had the top bid of $51.7 million - exceeding the previous high posting fee for a Japanese player, the $51.1 million the Red Sox bid for the right to negotiate with Daisuke Matsuzaka in 2006. The posting fee will be paid only if the Rangers reach an agreement with Darvish’s agents, Arn Tellem and Don Nomura.
The Times reported Texas beat out bids made by several teams, including the Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays, and Cubs.
Darvish went 18-7 with a 1.44 ERA and 276 strikeouts in 232 innings last season in the Pacific League. In five seasons in Japan, he went 76-28 with a 1.72 ERA in 128 appearances.
Darvish helped lead Japan to its second consecutive World Baseball Classic title in 2009, going 2-1 with a 2.08 ERA in five appearances. He struck out 20 in 13 innings, and earned the title-clinching win against Korea in relief.
The two-time defending AL champion Rangers lost lefthander C.J. Wilson to the rival Angels in free agency, but Darvish gives Texas another piece to its rotation after the team had already moved another young, hard-throwing righty, Neftali Feliz, out of the bullpen.
Cause of Braun test?
Citing a source familiar with the situation, TMZ.com reported yesterday that Ryan Braun’s positive drug test was caused by medication the National League MVP was taking for an undisclosed medical issue. Braun is facing a 50-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Policy and is appealing the test result.
TMZ did not specify which medication caused Braun’s positive result. The Brewers slugger has adamantly denied taking any performance-enhancing drugs, calling the test “B.S.’’ after ESPN first reported the violation Dec. 10.
A spokesperson for Braun said he would not comment on the TMZ report.
Kubel to Arizona
The Diamondbacks reached agreement on a two-year, $15 million contract with outfielder Jason Kubel. Arizona general manager Kevin Towers confirmed the deal last night, saying it was contingent on Kubel passing a physical. The contract includes a mutual option for a third year.
Kubel, 29, would add a lefthanded power bat in home run-friendly Chase Field. He had 104 home runs and 429 RBIs in seven seasons with the Twins. Injuries limited him to 99 games last season, including 37 as a DH.
The addition comes as something of a surprise because it would send left fielder Gerardo Parra to the bench as the Diamondbacks’ fourth outfielder. Parra had a breakthrough season in 2011, batting .292 and winning a Gold Glove.
Rollins deal done
The Phillies and their longtime shortstop, Jimmy Rollins, finalized a $33 million, three-year contract, with a vesting option for a fourth year at $11 million. If not vested, that could be a club option at $8 million or a player option at $5 million. “To go somewhere new, at this part of my career, you feel like a rented player because you weren’t part of the process of building the team up,’’ Rollins said . . . Mets reliever Frank Francisco officially signed a two-year, $12 million contract after agreeing to a deal during the winter meetings. Francisco saved 17 games for Toronto last season . . . Former Red Sox outfielder Mike Cameron agreed to a minor league contract with the Nationals with an invitation to spring training. Cameron, 38, split last season between Boston and the Marlins, batting .203 with nine homers in 237 at-bats.