Just because the clock said 3 p.m. didn’t mean the business day was finished. Not when you’re talking about the MLB trade deadline.
The best example of that was on Monday afternoon in Arlington.
At 2:50 p.m., Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish sent out a tweet that said “10min!!” At the time, it looked like the righty was staying in a Rangers uniform for at least six more weeks after word got out that the team was looking into trade options.
Then 3 p.m. hit and there was complete silence. Turns out that wasn’t exactly the case behind the scenes. A few minutes after the deadline had passed and the paperwork was sorted out at the MLB offices, Darvish and the rest of the baseball world soon found out he was heading west to Los Angeles.
“I’m got a phone call from my agent telling me it’s almost done right before 3 o’clock so I was mentally prepared for it,” Darvish said through his interpreter.
The Rangers sent their ace to the Dodgers in exchange for three minor leaguers, second baseman/outfielder Willie Calhoun, right-handed pitcher A.J. Alexy and infielder Brendon Davis. Calhoun was the Dodgers’ No. 4 overall prospect, Alexy was ranked at No. 17 and Davis at No. 27. Calhoun will report to Triple-A Round Rock while Alexy and Davis will be sent to Class-A Hickory.
The 30-year old was named an All-Star this season but did not pitch in the Mid-Summer Classic earlier this month. He was 6-9 with 4.01 ERA with 148 strikeouts in 22 starts this season while wearing the Rangers uniform. Outside of his last start against the Miami Marlins when he gave up 10 runs in a blowout loss, Darvish was solid on the bump. A big problem was that the offense didn’t have his back in most of the starts as he got very little run support.
Darvish arrived on the scene from Japan in style prior to the 2012 season when the Rangers won the bidding war and were able to sign him to a six-year, $60 million deal. Darvish became a fan favorite in Arlington and one of the best pitchers in the game with an arsenal that would leave you shaking your head. His stuff was, and still is, that nasty. He was the ace that Texas was looking for since the days of Nolan Ryan.
While wearing a Rangers uniform, Darvish was 52-39 with a 3.42 ERA. He also leaves Texas with 960 strikeouts and an 18.4 WAR in 122 starts. The organization felt like the days of Darvish in Texas was worth the money that was shelled out six years ago.
“He was outstanding when he was on the field for us,” said general manager Jon Daniels. “Pitched at a level that very, very few pitchers do. When he came over, this wasn’t just a new team. It wasn’t just a new free agent coming over from the coast. This was a new country, a new organization, a new culture, a new ball, a new mound, a new travel schedule, a new language, new teammates, you name it. He made every effort to assimilate.”
So now the days of the two aces is over for the Rangers, at least for the season. Lefty Cole Hamels owns that role all by himself. Darvish was scheduled to start on Tuesday night against the Seattle Mariners at The Globe but that isn’t happening now. Nick Martinez will likely get the start after being recalled from Round Rock.
Meanwhile, the rich got richer in L.A. with the addition of Darvish and the thoughts start to wonder on if this makes them the World Series favorites. The Darvish move allows the Dodgers, who have the best record in the majors, to not worry about rushing back their ace, Highland Park’s own Clayton Kershaw. The big lefty is recovering from back stiffness but has recently resumed throwing. Once he’s healthy, the Dodgers starting rotation will consist of Kershaw, Darvish, Alex Wood and Rich Hill. That’s a legit staff.
Back in Texas, the Rangers spent the last couple of days adding talent to the system. Earlier in the day, they sent reliever Jeremy Jeffress back to Milwaukee for minor league pitcher Taylor Scott. On Sunday evening, the Rangers traded catcher Jonathan Lucroy to Colorado for the ever-popular player to be named later. Both were acquired a year ago as the Rangers were on their way to locking up a second straight division title.
The division is out of reach for the Rangers but the wild card is still in play, barely. Texas goes into Monday night 5.5 games back with time running out. Now on the optimism side of things, the Rangers did make a second half run in 2015 to win the division without Darvish, who missed the season due to Tommy John surgery. There are still plenty of players left from that 2015 squad and the feeling in the clubhouse is there’s still plenty to play for.
“We still have games to play and we are still in the fight,” said Rangers manager Jeff Banister. “Until they tell us we are not in a fight anymore, we are still in the fight. I relish the fact that some of this is going to go down as well as ‘the Rangers now are not part of the equation.’ Go ahead. You can’t measure what’s inside a man’s chest and what they are willing to play for and what they are willing to fight for.”
Back to Darvish, he is a free agent at the end of the season. With that being said, is there a chance that a reunion could take place in Arlington in 2018?
When asked, Darvish replied jokingly “I don’t think I’m ever coming back.” He was laughing at the time but you have to wonder how much truth there is to it. He was more serious about it when asked about it a second time around.
“It’s hard to comment on any of that right now, just going to have to wait and see,” Darvish said. “For example, if the Rangers offer me very low money, I’m not going to sign but I think I’m going to talk to all the teams available who’s looking at me and see what happens.”
Daniels isn’t completely ruling the reunion out after the season.
“We’ll see,” added Daniels. “We’ve got a long-term plan but things change. We very well could. Certainly he checks a lot of boxes in things we are looking for but right now he’s going to the Dodgers and we wish him well there.”
So, the era of Yu came to an end on Monday afternoon and now moves to Hollywood. However, Darvish appreciated his time in the Lone Star State.
“It’s been great. My teammates, my fans, I have nothing but appreciation for everybody here.”