"But from where I sit, [the Rangers submitting the highest bid for Yu Darvish] is feeling like too much of a long shot to merit too much more in the way of intensive thought. And if you had most or all of your hot-stove hopes pinned on an aggressive play by the Rangers on Darvish, I hope you're prepared for a jolting blast of disapppointment." - The (Probable) End of Yu Darvish, 12/14/11
We all knew for a very long time -- in relative terms, anyway -- that the Rangers wanted Darvish, but were recently told that the capital very likely wasn't there for Texas to make a legitimate play at him, were told that the Rangers were more inclined to utilize their present and future wherewithal by focusing on locking up their "core" players, and were even told that the Rangers may not even bother submitting a bid.
Then, late in the ballgame, we were made privy to a few whispers about ownership potentially being open to dropping major coin in the winter market after all, and a pseudo conspiracy theory centered around Jon Daniels mysteriously vanishing after taking a phone call at a media luncheon on the afternoon that the Darvish bidding deadline was to pass. And after that, there was nothing beyond half-cocked media speculation and hearsay that, in the end, really told us nothing.
Nothing until Monday night's tweet literally heard around the world, from Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan at 10:06 p.m. CST:
The Texas Rangers have won the posting auction of Japanese right-hander Yu Darvish with a record $51.7M bid, sources tell Yahoo! Sports.
They've only cleared the first hurdle in this process, but it was far and away the biggest hurdle, and the very clear expectation at this point has to be that the Rangers will seal the deal by way of a five- or six-year agreement at some point during this forthcoming 30-day exclusive negotiating window. I find it difficult to imagine that there's another major league team that knows Darvish any better than the Rangers do, or that Darvish knows any other team better than the Rangers. I also find it difficult to imagine that Texas will manage to secure Darvish for anything less than an average annual value of $10 million, which will drive the total non-inflation-adjusted outlay beyond the $100 million mark and possibly well into the $110-120 million range.
For whatever it's worth, one American League executive (via CBS Sports' Jon Heyman) believes that it's going to take a C.J. Wilson-esque five-year, $77 million contract to sign Darvish. On the other hand, though, we've heard plenty from these same high-ranking -- and always conveniently anonymous -- baseball people this winter that never panned out, or offered only faint semblances of actual truth. And while we've heard talk of Darvish being loathe to accept a deal just because it offers a lot of money (with the implication being that signing him isn't actually a sure thing), the Rangers still wield significant leverage. I just don't think it's going to take C.J. money to bring Darvish under contract.
Nor, for that matter, do I think it was ever a very good idea to take anything we heard about the Rangers' present or future off-season blueprints at face value ... but especially not after this. Because everything we heard about the Rangers' lacking financial flexibility in the days leading up to Monday night's climactic announcement does, in retrospect, appear to have been part of a masterfully executed smokescreen engineered by the front office that has made an art out of zigging when the near-entirety of the baseball industry, the media, and a chronically reactionary public have expected them to zag. And, hell, they even got me on this one as well.
Five mornings ago, I attempted to engage my good friend Mike Hindman in some hot stove spitballing. "I don't know why people bother trying to figure out what the Rangers will do or why they'll do it at this point," he quickly retorted.
I'm beginning to think he was onto something.