Friday, January 20, 2012

Darvish Contract Makes Yankee Pitching Moves Look Even Better

Yu Darvish is officially a Texas Ranger.  For a cool $112 million, the Rangers were able to plug the gap left by former ace C.J. Wilson jumping to the Angels.  And in the process they made the Yankees' pitching additions from last Friday look even better.

For what works out to approximately $18.667 million dollars per season after factoring in the contract and posting fee, the Yankees could have had Darvish's services.  He could have slotted in behind CC as the #2 starter, provided an upgrade over what the Yankees had in their rotation at the time, and given them another young pitcher around which they could build their rotation for the future over the next couple seasons.  He also would have left them with one rotation spot still being occupied by A.J. Burnett, and at that price tag seriously crippled the Yankees' plans to cut payroll for 2014, unless they let both Swish and C-Grand walk without making offers to them and stayed dormant on the FA and trade markets.

As it stands right now, the Yankees will pay Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda about $10.4 million in 2012, significantly less than what Darvish will get from Texas, and lengthen their rotational depth in the process.  They'll do it without sacrificing their future payroll goals, and with Pineda being under team control for the next 5 years and coming off a stellar rookie year, the Yankees could stand to get production from him identical to, if not better than what Darvish will provide at a fraction of the cost.  Even Kuroda could come close to replicating Darvish in 2012 when you factor in all the adjustments that Darvish will have to make going from the Japanese game to the American game.

Darvish, for all his talents and impressive numbers, is an unknown commodity as a Major League pitcher.  Pineda and Kuroda are not.  And Pineda, at 2 years younger than Darvish, already has a very good Major League season under his belt.  His learning curve will presumably be shorter than that of Darvish.  If Pineda outperforms Darvish over the next 5 years, the decision by Cash to pass on Darvish and pursue this trade is going to look like a stroke of genius.  Even if he doesn't, it's reasonable to expect Pineda to come close to matching Darvish moving forward and at the drastically different dollar amounts that each will be making, that's still a great deal for the Yankees.

In the end, Darvish and the price tag tied to him didn't fit in with the Yankees' plans.  They went out and found a much cheaper alternative that could turn out to provide even better value.  And they lowered their risk by taking a chance on Major League players with Major League experience.  As much as they scouted Darvish, the Yankees had to have a very solid idea of what he is and could become as a pitcher and what that was worth to them.  And they decided that shelling out 9 figures for that kind of pitcher wasn't a wise investment.  When the alternative is adding 2 quality starters at significantly less money while still maintaining future roster and payroll flexibility, I would have to agree with that decision.

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