Rangers win rights to talk with Darvish

FILE - In this file photo taken on

FILE - In this file photo taken on May 21, 2010, Nippon Ham Fighters starter Yu Darvish pitches against the Yokohama BayStars during their baseball game in Sapporo, northern Japan. Photo Credit: AP

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The Texas Rangers won the rights to negotiate with Japanese righthander Yu Darvish, Major League Baseball announced late Monday night.

The announcement was made just after 1 p.m. Tuesday in Japan.

The Yankees made a token bid to obtain the rights to Darvish, but they were believed to have been blown out of the financial water by the winning club.

A report on SI.com last week said the winning bid was higher than the $51.1 million the Red Sox bid to obtain the rights to Daisuke Matsuzaka in 2006. According to Yahoo! sports, the Rangers' bid was $51.7 million.

The Yankees think highly of Darvish, 25, who went 18-6 with a 1.44 ERA and a league-leading 276 strikeouts last season for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters. But Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner is trying to keep the team's payroll from ballooning out of control because the new collective-bargaining agreement has an even more onerous luxury tax than the previous one.

The Yankees were leery of committing a high posting fee and then having to negotiate a lucrative contract for Darvish. Matsuzaka, who has been so-so with the Red Sox, signed a six-year, $52-million contract. Darvish is expected to try to top that figure, meaning the winning club could be looking at a total outlay of more than $125 million for a talented but unknown quantity.

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The Yankees' last foray into the Japanese pitching market was the $26-million winning bid they submitted for lefthander Kei Igawa in 2006. Igawa signed a five-year, $20-million contract and gave the Yankees two wins over the life of the just-expired deal.

Other clubs thought to have bid on Darvish are Toronto, Washington and Seattle.

The Rangers now have 30 days to work out a deal with Darvish. If the two sides can't come to an agreement, Darvish will return to the Fighters for the 2012 season and the Rangers will pay them nothing.

The two-time defending American League champion Rangers lost Cliff Lee to the Phillies via free agency after 2010 and C.J. Wilson to the Angels this offseason.

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