After months … hell, years of speculation, the Yu Darvish saga officially came to an end last night, at least as far as the Yankees as concerned. It was announced Monday night that the Texas Rangers won the negotiating rights to the Japanese right-hander with a $51.7M bid, the largest ever submitted in the relatively brief history of the posting process. The Rangers obviously decided Darvish would be a better investment than C.J. Wilson, a pretty darn good pitcher they know better than anyone. The Yankees, on the other hand, didn’t seem all that interested in getting involved in a bidding war.
Soon after the news broke, Marc Carig reported that the Yankees submitted what was essentially a safety bid. If other teams were tapped out financially this late in the offseason and Darvish fell into their laps, then great. Those were the terms under which they were willing to add the guy to their team. That obviously didn’t happen though, and it sure doesn’t seem like the Yankees will be terribly disappointed. They’ve been very passive in their pursuit of pitching this offseason, at least big name pitching like Darvish, Wilson, and Mark Buehrle. Call them cheap if you want, just don’t expect me to take you seriously if you do.
“I think like with anything else you learn over time … I think we’re more prepared today than we have been in the past,” said Brian Cashman when asked about the possibility of pursuing Darvish during his end-of-season press conference last month, obviously alluding to the Kei Igawa disaster. Cashman and then-manager Joe Torre reportedly had to ask Igawa what his best pitch was during his first season in New York, a clear sign they didn’t do their homework and based their decision to pursue the guy on emotional reaction rather than informed opinion. Emotional reactions are pretty much the worst kind of reactions, especially when it comes to making baseball decisions, but the Yankees have definitely moved away from that type of thinking in recent years. If they hadn’t, Jesus Montero would have been long gone, traded for whatever the flavor of the week was after Cliff Lee signed with the Phillies.
We know the Yankees had been scouting Darvish since at least 2008, so they certainly did their homework this time around. Special advisor and former GM Gene Michael saw him, both scouting directors Billy Eppler (pro) and Damon Oppenheimer (amateur) saw him, I’m willing to bet former Padres and current D’Backs GM Kevin Towers saw him (at least on video) when he was on the staff last year, and I’m sure a small army of scouts and other advisors saw him as well. The Yankees gathered information over a long period of time and made their decision, exactly like they should have. We might not agree with the decision to not make an aggressive play for Darvish (I don’t), but there’s nothing we can do about it.
From here, nothing changes for the Yankees. They still need pitching, still need to shore up the bench, still need to add some general depth pieces, stuff like that. Unless they decide to dance with Scott Boras about Edwin Jackson, any starting pitching solution will likely come on a short-term, relatively low-risk deal, which is definitely preferable at this point. Darvish is risky, but he’s also incredibly talented. The kind of talent you’d usually roll the dice with. There’s a chance Cashman and Yankees will end up regretting their half-hearted pursuit of the righty, but I also don’t blame them for not submitting a bid north of $50M.