The Washington Nationals didn't place a bid to purchase the rights Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish this offseason, but he may be the leading factor blocking Prince Fielder's arrival in DC. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com is reporting that Darvish and the Texas Rangers, the team that won exclusive negotiating rights to his contract, are not close to a deal.
The Rangers paid a $51.7 million posting fee to the Nippon Ham Fighters to negotiate a deal with Darvish. According to reports, Darvish has been offered a contract similar to Daisuke Matsuzaka, the Boston Red Sox pitcher, of around $52 million. All in all, that would be almost $104 million out of the purse of the Rangers organization.
How does this affect the Nationals? Well, the Rangers have also been tied to the Prince Fielder. If Texas doesn't successfully sign Darvish, he will return to the Nippon Ham Fighters and the Rangers will get their $51.7 million posting fee back, plus they won't have doled out as much as $90 million to sign Darvish. All that means the Rangers will have more than $100 million, and could have as much as $140 million, burning a hole in their pockets.
Fielder's superagent Scott Boras is certainly aware that more bidders are better. So it isn't just possible, it is likely, that fans across NatsTown have been forced to wait not because of the Nats front office, but because of the Rangers front office.
The Rangers have another week to decide what to do with Darvish, but you can expect once that's wrapped up one way or another, Prince will sign somewhere very soon after.
It may be that Fielder would like to play for the Rangers, and might prefer them to the Nats. It is also likely that Boras is indeed waiting to see if the Rangers do sign Darvish. But I wouldn't assume that 1) because a Darvish deal isn't done yet and is 'not close' he's going back to Japan. They have a week left and these kind of deals are usually done at the last minute. 2). That the Rangers, having lost Darvish because they wouldn't spend an extra $20-40 million, are going to lavish $200 million on Fielder.
Really interesting post, Joe. I think the big question here is: Is fielder choosing to wait for the Rangers because he would rather play in Texas? Or is he choosing to wait because he knows his leverage for a deal is stronger with two serious bidders? To me that makes a difference. If he'd rather be somewhere else, let him go IMO.
PS. I don't think that 'struggling' is the right word to use. I don't think that the Nats organization, unlike some fans, wants Fielder badly enough to engage in any kind of 'struggle' for him (and certainly not to be drawn into a bidding war). 'Fielder: Nats may need to wait on Darvish outcome' might have been more accurate.
Let him go? That's pretty harsh considering that we are talking about Prince Fielder. I don't care were he'd rather be, if he signs on the dotted line and cashes my check, then I'd say he's made a commitment. Prince isn't the type of player to coast through anything, that much is evident. This guy has given his all to every team lucky enough to have him aboard... just my 2¢