A Few Thoughts On Yu Darvish

Dave · November 1, 2011 at 12:00 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Originally, I was hoping to have my Offseason Plan post done by yesterday. A weekend fever nixed that idea – please return soon, immune system – and I’m now going to push it back to tomorrow. But, in the meantime, I thought I’d link to three posts we did over at FanGraphs today on Yu Darvish, who is someone that the Mariners are connected to from time to time.

First off, Patrick Newman has some background on Darvish, and includes a link to the full broadcast of his final start of the season. If you’ve never seen Darvish pitch but wanted to, make sure to check that out.

Next up was Eno Sarris, who explained why Darvish is different than Dice-K. They’re just not the same pitcher, and while comparisons are inevitable due to the posting process and their backgrounds, using Matsuzaka’s career as a template for what to expect from Darvish just isn’t a very good idea.

Finally, I weighed in on the kind of contract Darvish should be able to command after he’s posted, and point out why I think the current rumored prices are something close to insane.

I’m in the camp of the M’s doing whatever it takes to improve this winter, and if upgrading the pitching staff was the best way to do it, then I’d be all in favor of bringing Darvish on board. I hope the team has at least thoroughly evaluated him and created an informed opinion on his future expected performance. Just like every other player who is available this winter, I think it’s fair to expect the M’s to weigh whether he’s a player they should pursue.

However, if the posting fee is going to be $40-$50 million and he’s going to want a Felix-like contract in order to sign, that’s just too steep for my blood, even if the posting fee comes from a separate budget and doesn’t count against player payroll. While Darvish sounds like an interesting talent, the hype here is pretty large, and the lack of viable alternatives for teams who want to acquire pitching will probably drive his price beyond reason.

My guess – and this is just a guess – is that the team could do better by spending their money elsewhere. Darvish won’t be a part of my Offseason Plan.


27 Responses to “A Few Thoughts On Yu Darvish”

  1. built2crash on November 1st, 2011 12:23 pm

    I bet Grady Sizemore will be part of the off-season plan?

  2. robbbbbb on November 1st, 2011 1:17 pm

    I know that you’re joking a bit with that line about your immune system, but seriously, get well soon, Dave. Missing this year’s Offseason Plan is a small price to pay for all the future Offseason Plans yet to be developed.

  3. Chris_From_Bothell on November 1st, 2011 1:26 pm

    If it wasn’t for the posting fee, the M’s could almost get into the Darvish race to a) keep him away from the Rangers and b) flip him for a high quality OF or 3b.

  4. Zorganak on November 1st, 2011 1:46 pm

    If a team were interested enough in Darvish to give up high quality players in a trade why wouldn’t that team just sign him in the first place and keep their high quality players?

    I’ve seen this suggestion a couple times and I just don’t understand the reasoning behind it. I know quality players get traded then immediately traded again (Napoli) but I’ve never heard of a highly coveted free agent (essentially) being signed then flipped to another team.

    The only reason I see in doing this is to get the M’s to pay the posting fee and then trade his contract to the other team, if that’s the case the M’s are essentially trading $50 million (or whatever his fee ends up being) and a player for some other player. That’s a pretty steep price tag and the player coming back had better be Strasburg quality.

    If there’s some other strategy I’m missing behind this, please let me know.

  5. Klatz on November 1st, 2011 2:10 pm

    If you could convince Hiroki Kuroda to play in Seattle, he’d be a good candidate for a 2-3 year contract. That is if you could place his contract on the separate budget and it didn’t count against the payroll limit for 2012.

  6. The_Waco_Kid on November 1st, 2011 3:04 pm

    Can’t wait for your offseason plan. Feel better!

  7. Westside guy on November 1st, 2011 4:00 pm

    I’m a bit concerned about the number of pitches Darvish throws per game – seems like another good reason to exercise caution when making an offer (assuming the M’s decide to get in the game at all).

  8. Chris_From_Bothell on November 1st, 2011 4:12 pm

    If a team were interested enough in Darvish to give up high quality players in a trade why wouldn’t that team just sign him in the first place and keep their high quality players?

    Then they’d be paying for Darvish and for the HQP. The theoretical trade is with a team that could afford either Darvish or some other premium players, but not both.

    if that’s the case the M’s are essentially trading $50 million (or whatever his fee ends up being) and a player for some other player.

    Hence me saying “if it wasn’t for the posting fee”.

  9. kennyb on November 1st, 2011 4:21 pm

    I’m not sure that I understand the theory behind posting money coming from a different place than payroll. I understand the idea of separating the posting fee and not including that total in the yearly salary figures, but if you have 40 – 50 million to dump into a posting fee, why can’t you bump up your payroll by 10 mil for 4 – 5 years?
    If the M’s added 10 mil to their payroll it isn’t like they will be up against the salary “cap” or anything.
    I don’t want Fielder, but if the team decided they wanted to go that way, 10 mil a year could come in handy.

  10. lailaihei on November 1st, 2011 4:25 pm

    Assuming that posting fees “come out of a different budget”; what is the most you would sign Darvish for?
    Would you be willing to give him $15 million per year for a few years? How about $12 million?

  11. xsacred24x on November 1st, 2011 5:10 pm

    Wouldn’t it be better to invest in a everyday player like Prince then getting another starting pitcher which we are rich in?

  12. lailaihei on November 1st, 2011 5:26 pm

    Wouldn’t it be better to invest in a everyday player like Prince then getting another starting pitcher which we are rich in?

    No. Value is value in any form. Right now our 4/5 guys going into the season are Beavan/Furbush. Two pitchers who are basically replacement level. Yes, we have some exciting young arms in the system, but if Walker and Paxton pitch themselves into the rotation, and none of our starters get injured, we can always offload one of our pitchers (say, Vargas, who has value with team control) for a bat.

    So if Darvish can be had at a discount relative to the rest of the FA market, it makes sense to sign him. It doesn’t matter that he’s not an “everyday player” or that we have “lots of pitchers”. Value is value, and a $10m starter is worth the same as a $10m 1B.

  13. Mathball on November 1st, 2011 5:33 pm

    I’d be interested in Darvish, only if the ownership thought it was in the best interest of the team to have another Japanese All Star, and opened up the wallet a bit more to make it happen. Sure I’d rather have the money to spend else where, but if it is a choice between more money and Darvish or same budget, I’d take the first. Then we could trade existing pitchers for 3B or C.

    Only a thought

  14. just a fan on November 1st, 2011 6:55 pm

    If the M’s believe Darvish will be an ace, they must get him. With Ichiro retiring soon, the M’s need to protect and expand their lead in the Japanese market — along with preventing the Rangers from stealing the M’s spotlight. The Mariners must prevent Texas from expanding their economic reach even further.

    Going into the season with Felix and Darvish, with either Pineda or the slugger the M’s trade him for, would give the M’s the opportunity to take advantage of any bad luck in Texas. Plus, this team needs a spark with its fan base.

    Sure, it could become an albatross. So could Felix. But a Felix-Darvish 1-2 punch could dominate a playoff series, especially if any of Pineda, Hultzen, Paxton and Walker meet their potential value (including via trade).

    Let the M’s be that drunken sailor on Yu Darvish.

  15. jld on November 1st, 2011 7:04 pm

    Part of why I don’t like the posting system is the market isn’t very efficient. In the free agency system, a player works between many teams until one team is left standing. The price paid is ony marginally more than what was required to get the guy. In the Japanese system, the post bids are sealed, everyone only gets one bid. The winning team might bid double what everyone else bid.

    Maybe the Mariners should post a bid for $100M and then refuse to offer Darvish a contract. If you aren’t going to get better, you might as well prevent everyone else from improving too.

  16. ripperlv on November 1st, 2011 7:13 pm

    If money were not the issue, would Darvish be a wise accquisition?

    The M’s may perhaps gague Japanese dollars lost by not getting Darvish and Japanese dollars gained by accquiring Darvish. Especially, if Darvish is expected to be one of the best, or the best Japanese player/pitcher in MLB.

    By having a Japanese owner, I wonder if he feels an ‘obligation’ to make a serious bid on Darvish. Having lived in Japan for a couple years, I know that ‘saving face’ or ‘not losing face’ is an important trait in Japanese society. If this would have an impact on signing a baseball player, I don’t know, but it might.

    I think there were more than a few eyebrows raised when Ichiro signed his contract. Could this be another “Ichiro” contract?

  17. lalo on November 1st, 2011 7:34 pm

    Darvish is very good, but 17 M per year?? It´d be crazy, specially with our lineup problems and the great rotation we´ll have in 2012-2016, I would pay 20 or 25 millions for Felix or Verlander, not even for Sabathia, so they shouldn´t waste 102 millions in a japanese pitcher with no experience in MLB, I´d be in favor only if this money were extra-budget (Japanese owner), 50 millions invested in 3 players is not a good idea, specially with a 90 millions budget, in my opinion they should invest in players with a track record in MLB,and I´m not talking about Prince Fielder, there´s a lot of good players…

  18. groundzero55 on November 1st, 2011 8:34 pm

    Over 12m a year (minimum) for an unknown quantity. I don’t like it. Yeah, the guy’s good. But hitters are just better here, no ifs ands or buts about it. We straight up cannot afford that kind of cash. If the ownership keeps payroll static, I thought we were only going to have about 12m to play with this offseason, total.

  19. qwerty on November 1st, 2011 8:43 pm

    Maybe the Mariners should post a bid for $100M and then refuse to offer Darvish a contract. If you aren’t going to get better, you might as well prevent everyone else from improving too.

    Can we do this?

  20. AckAttack on November 1st, 2011 9:28 pm

    Man, i wish Darvish wasn’t so expensive… He would be so much fun.

  21. groundzero55 on November 1st, 2011 9:32 pm

    Can we do this?

    Well, probably, but we’d be out 100m for no real positive other than Darvish not pitching for some other team.

  22. henryv on November 1st, 2011 9:51 pm

    I wonder if teams have cooled on foreign import pitcher like Darvish. I wonder if he will actually command that much money. If so, good. Just hopefully not by the M’s, unless Jack Z wins the Mega Millions or something.

    Maybe that should be part of the offseason plan.

    Anyways, the real thing I wanted to say what that I hope you feel better, Dave. Sorry about the fever. Is an upcoming spot on B&S?

  23. Valenica on November 1st, 2011 10:59 pm

    The problem with Darvish’s posting/contract isn’t so much Dice-K’s example, but Kei Igawa. NYY posted $26 million for Igawa, and got him for $20 million / 5 years. For Kei Igawa!

    The wonder of Darvish – he could be a 5-6 WAR pitcher, or a 2-3 WAR one. Let’s just assume because of risk, etc. teams value him at 4 WAR over 5 years = 20 WAR. At $4 million, that’s $80 million.

    Split that half posting, half contract because historically that’s a nice ball park. You’re looking at $40 million posting, $40 million / 5 years for Darvish.

    That’s not too bad. The issue is, WAR is worth more the closer you are to 90 wins. We’re like, a 75 win team? We probably value WAR at $4 million each. However a bubble team with a pitching need and money like the Nats, Jays, Dodgers, Angels, and Rangers all value WAR at $4.5 million, or more. So instead of paying the average $4 million / WAR, they might go up to $5 million / WAR. Then you’re looking at $50/$50 – something out of our price range. Then you also have teams who might project Darvish more like 4.5 WAR, so they’ll be willing to pay even more.

    All these factors will probably price us out of Darvish’s range. But we do have a Japanese owner. Maybe he’s an irrational Darvish fan with a room full of naked Darvish posters, so he’ll be willing to shell out extra to see him on his MLB team. Doubtful, but one can dream.

  24. groundzero55 on November 1st, 2011 11:12 pm

    Maybe he’s an irrational Darvish fan with a room full of naked Darvish posters,

    He ain’t the only one!

    kidding, kidding!

  25. The_Waco_Kid on November 2nd, 2011 1:33 am

    Also, regardless of whether we should go for Darvish, what are the chances that we will? Is the ownership more likely to take the risk or raise the budget for Darvish than for another player?

  26. ck on November 2nd, 2011 12:05 pm

    I wholeheartedly agree with all previous posters that any way to add value is a good thing. If the owner takes money of his own and provides the team with a good starting pitcher that the M’s did not lose anything in trade for, and still have their original budget for off-season additions intact, this is a great addition.

  27. smb on November 8th, 2011 4:03 pm

    Is there any reason not to include the posting fee as part of the value proposition when evaluating a Japanese talent? It seems like most folks tend to focus on the contract (millions/years), but if you include the posting fee, even prorated over the life of the new contract, isn’t there basically a blanket premium on established Japanese players who want to sign with an MLB team? If yes, then that premium generally means you’re only going to get a decent performance-cost ratio if said player performs to or above the high end of any projections. Dice K had an ugly contract, but when you add in the posting fee, it was an egregiously bad contract given his performance, wasn’t it?

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