I initially wrote about my thoughts on Yu Darvish in this piece, written on January 28th 2011, and stick to most of those thoughts as being reason enough for the Jays to go out there and grab Yu Darvish for themselves. There are fairly straightforward reasons for wanting the Jays to sign him if they do win the bidding process. Here are my top 10 reasons to look forward to a Darvish addition to the Jays, in no certain order:
1 – Forget about the bid money
It doesn’t apply to the yearly contracts you’ll see on the Cot’s Baseball Contracts site, and is something that is completely owner vs owner. Who wants that player more, and who wants to flaunt their money more. That’s it, that’s all. Rogers has been saving up for a rainy day for quite a few years and make up one of the wealthiest ownership groups in all of MLB. If you ask me, it’s about time that they start to act like it. Without ownership saying “go get him”, no team could “afford” a bid for the best international talent available, and that’s what Darvish is, the best international talent available.
Also, how much money did AA save for Jays ownership when he dealt Vernon Wells to the LAA? I’m pretty sure that covers the bulk of the bid.
So, if we agree that 51.1 million or more, the reported highest bid for Darvish, should be ignored as a “sunk cost”, the real question is whether or not Yu Darvish is worth the $8 to $12 million per year his salary will dictate? That brings me to the next point….
2 - Aroldis Chapman vs Yu Darvish
Is it just me, or were people more lenient on the Reds for spending a ton of money on Chapman than they are on people overspending for Darvish? The latter is a MUCH better and more polished pitcher who has been tested at the highest levels of baseball, including the Baseball Classic. The former may not have cost a big bid to get negotiation rights, but when you don’t know whether he’ll become a set up guy, a closer, or a starter, is it safe to say that such a bid may have been much smaller than Dice K’s and Yu’s? I think so. Sure, he can hit the big numbers, but as Joel Zumaya and others have shown us in MLB, hitting big numbers is never the be all and end all when pitching in this league. Therefore, due to his employ-ability as a walk-in #2-3 starter, and the fact that Darvish brings with him a HUGE amount of potential for marketability in Japan (my next point), he is worth a whole lot more than Chapman was to the Reds.
3 – Marketability
Do we really know exactly how much money the Jays and Rogers will make in Japan if they get to sign the biggest Japanese star EVER to come across the Pacific Ocean? It’s extremely hard to evaluate, if not impossible. Let me put it to you this way: MLB, if not just the Jays, stands to lose a TON of money if an MLB team wins the bid and doesn’t sign Darvish. All of those Jerseys, other gear and most importantly, TV Ratings and contracts, would be gone. Is it feasible to think that 4-6 great years of Darvish in Toronto – including some possible playoff appearances – could garnish the Jays well over $100 million from Japanese led profits, not to mention the boost in Toronto from bringing more success to the team? It’s possible. It’s always easier to market a successful team, and if Darvish can bring the Jays to another level – the 89 to 95 win area, the Jays marketing crew will have a much easier time. Not only do the Japanese media do ALL of the work required for the Asian side of things, as they proved with Dice-K, but they’d be even more numerous than they were for Dice since from what I gather is a “rock star” following that Darvish attracts with him where ever he goes.
4/5/6 – More Trade Ammunition, No Need for Development, and More Development for Others
Remember that acquiring Darvish comes with 3 major advantages, as listed in the title. The Jays instantaneously have an extra arm or two to deal should the right deal come around by acquiring Darvish. Or, they can simply view his acquisition as replacing what Nestor Molina may or may not have given them in the near future if they didn’t deal him. Either way, if there is now a player that can get them to a new level at a certain position and dealing someone like Deck McGuire can get them that player, it doesn’t hurt nearly as much as it would have if Darvish wasn’t around. His presence and polish in the rotation would therefore hold more value to Alex Anthopoulos and his dealing abilities.
Not only is Darvish more polished than someone like Molina would have been, but the Jays forewent the costs of having him in the minors for 2-3-4 years and also never had to pay him a signing bonus. Let’s assume that he was “highly sought after” at a young age for one moment. How big of a bonus would he have received? It’s hard to say since it would have been 4 to 6 years ago, but it still would have been above a million dollars plus the costs of developing him.
I will add that some people may say that this is a negative because his being developed in North America would at least have ensured he was used to pitching every 5th game, and not just once a week. It is true that the chances of injury are heightened due to this tempo difference. But, from what I hear, Darvish is always at the gym and therefore may have an easier time making the transition. Also, Darvish is a pitcher, and any time a pitcher throws a pitch there’s an injury risk. How many pitchers in the North American system go through surgery even when being used to their tempo? A ton, including the very best prospects like Stephen Strasburg.
And finally, can you put a price on how much pressure he’ll take off of the other youngsters in the Jays system by not having them begin the season with the Jays? Not really. There are many reasons for wanting young prospects to get more experience and confidence in the minors, and having Darvish lock up a spot ensures that they get all of the experience they need. I’m thinking of youngsters like Drew Hutchison and Deck McGuire in particular, who may benefit from at least another 1/2 season in the minors. If Darvish being with the Jays means that none of the Jays youngsters will have a Kyle Drabek style implosion, then I’m all for it.
7 – Other Targets
Make no mistake about it, if the Jays do land Yu Darvish, it doesn’t mean that the pitching additions will end there. Whether it’s trying to trade for Gio Gonzalez, Matt Garza, or for Jair Jurrjens, there will likely be another addition to the rotation. The abundance of pitching the Jays have coming through the system is simply put, ridiculous! If the Jays can offer up a package around one of their AA stars and therefore block the Yankees or Red Sox from landing Gonzalez, they win on two counts. They get better, and their AL East rivals don’t.
Prince Fielder is still an option for the Jays, even if they do land Darvish. As has been stated, Jays ownership apparently asked Jays brass to make a HUGE bid for Darvish. As I said above, that amount is simply a sunk cost and doesn’t apply to the 2012 contracts. If we say that Darvish makes as much as $12 million per season, it still keeps their total for 2012 BELOW $61 million!!! There are a few arbitration cases to go through, but there is absolutely no reason that the Jays can land Fielder and deal one of Adam Lind or Edwin Encarnacion thereafter. Doing so, at $22-27 million per season, still keeps the Jays well below $100 million and would instantaneously make the Jays a majorly improved team in 2012.
I know it’ll take his demands coming way down in terms of years, but if he decides that he wants to win and wants to be in the spotlight of the AL East, on a team where the DH is an option down the road instead of an NL team like the Cubs or Cards where it wouldn’t be, the Jays may be his best option. My guess is that an option could be included for a 6th season that vests if…..(insert playing time and/or performance level the previous year).
A new closer, a new #2-3 starter, and a new clean up hitter. That sounds like a pretty hefty improvement to me, and that’s before we include the improvements to the stock of prospects on the brink of being ready to make an impact in 2012-2013.
8 – Statement to the fans
If you want to truly make a statement to the fans, this is the way to do it. Put your money where your mouth is and see where the chips may fall. Even if the “Darvish experiment” proves to be a total bust, the fans will reward ownership for having stepped up and proven that they, like Angels owner Art Moreno, truly want to win. Trust me, if Toronto fans are willing to continue to support the Leafs when they were NOT showing anything to their fans, they will increase their following of the Jays if management invests in the team’s talent.
9 – Ricky Romero’s Leadership Abilities, and John Farrell
If Yu Darvish was headed to the Washington Nationals, for example, he may not have the leadership support he may need to ease his way into the club’s clubhouse and to get comfortable in MLB. Romero, on the other hand, has become one of the best leaders a team could hope for with the Jays. He keeps an easy attitude going, makes sure that the pitchers all support one another – even when one isn’t around if injured – and is exactly the kind of support Darvish needs. If that’s not enough, he also has one of the best pitching staffs and John Farrell to lean on. Trust me, if he lands with the Jays, Yu Darvish will feel right at home much more quickly with the Jays than he would in many other places in MLB.
10 – If you build it, they will come
I don’t care if it’s Yu Darvish or other moves that bring the Jays back into playoff contention and championships, but I do know this: if the Jays build a winner, the fans will come. And by winner, I mean a playoff team on an almost yearly basis. At least every 2-3 years. As Toronto fans showed in the 90s, when the Jays were outdrawing ALL other MLB teams, the potential is there for them to benefit from large expenditures that make them a winner. Unlike the Rays or A’s who could spend $200 million a piece and still have a half-empty stadium to play in, the Jays will see a direct benefit from winning. Ratings will go up, and Rogers benefits from both of those facts directly.
As we wait for the winning bid to be announced, and I do suspect that it was Toronto who won it not only because of what’s advertised, but also because it seems just like AA to ask for things to be quiet as they negotiate with Yu Darvish, we also get to wonder where other players like Prince Fielder go. If the Jays can somehow pull off an upset and land both of these players for the next 5-6 years, the entire franchise will be the new Beast of the East and will be very hard to contain. I do believe that it’s possible this will happen, and only hope that if it does, it doesn’t blow up in the face of the great Alex Anthopoulos. Because you can definitely believe that if they do land both, they may mark his career more than any other move he has made thus far, just as the spending spree JP Ricciardi went on when he took the helm affected his career.
Since I know it’s not his preference to make such huge investments for the long term, and it’s likely not his first choice in “how to build a franchise”, I hope all works out as planned and that the Jays prove him right ASAP.
IF we miss out on both, then we still get to watch some of the most promising prospects in MLB develop towards and in The Show, so to me whether or not the Jays nab Yu Darvish is definitely a win-win situation.
So with that in mind, relax, watch, and enjoy the entire 3 ring circus that is the Darvish-Fielder-Jays situation currently at hand!