Rangers, Darvish not ruling out a reunion

Finding a financial fit with free agent could be a hurdle

December 12th, 2017

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Rangers -- known for their reunions with former players -- are weighing the possibility of another one with pitcher .

Many of the elements are in place although the financial implications would be the biggest obstacle in getting Darvish back in Rangers uniform. But both sides have made it clear they are open to the possibility.

"The relationship is very good," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "A number of us [in the Rangers organization] still maintain contact with him. The relationship with him has been good for years. There are no other factors other than the traditional free-agent decisions."

The Rangers traded Darvish to the Dodgers on July 31 at a time when it appeared they were falling out of postseason contention. But they retain a high regard for Darvish and have spoken with agent Joel Wolfe.

Wolfe has acknowledged the Rangers interest and Darvish is open to a return, reiterating that his client enjoyed his time in Texas. Darvish and his wife still retain a home in the Dallas area.

"He had a tremendous experience there," Wolfe said. "They love Dallas. They moved back there after the season. But he's got an open mind. He wants to play for a winner, get back to the World Series and redeem himself. He feels next year will be the best year of his career."

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The Rangers have an opening in a rotation that includes left-handers Cole Hamels, and Mike Minor, and right-hander Doug Fister. Darvish would give them another potential 200-inning starter at the top of the rotation.

Darvish and are clearly the top two starters on the free-agent market. The Rangers would prefer Darvish based on their previous relationship with him even though Arrieta went to school locally at Plano East High and college at TCU.

But top starters do not come cheaply. Most of the Rangers reunions -- including Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli of late -- usually come at a time when the player's price has been reduced or is non-existent.

That is hardly the case with Darvish. He made 31 starters for the Rangers and Dodgers last season, going 10-12 with a 3.86 ERA. Those numbers don't sparkle but he still struck out 10.08 batters per nine innings, held opponents to a .228 batting average and finished with a 1.16 WHIP.

Darvish could be looking at a 5-7 year contract. The Astros and the Cubs are just two of the many teams that are seeking starting pitching this winter.

"We believe he is the best starting pitcher on the market, or in any capacity, whether it's trade or free agency," Wolfe said. "Hopefully, this is a busy week, but he is very patient. You look at what other aces did in the playoffs, he helped get the Dodgers to the World Series. I think his value is extremely high."

The Rangers are trying to be financially prudent this winter and Darvish would command a sizable investment for a pitcher who is 56-42 with a 3.42 ERA in parts of five Major League seasons with Texas, is 31 years old and had Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery on March 17, 2015.

Daniels said the financial implications are, "a big part on both sides but not the only one. It could be any number of things. But there is nothing outside the normal factors that keep us from pursuing him."

There is also no doubt the Rangers could use a front-line starter to really accelerate the reconstruction of their rotation if they are serious about contending in the American League West.

Rangers beat

• There was some chatter about the Rangers interest in Mets pitcher Matt Harvey, who can be a free agent after next season. But Daniels said in general the Rangers aren't looking to trade controllable talent for a one-year rental.

• The Rangers have yet to announce the signing of free-agent pitcher Chris Martin. The deal is still pending a physical but the Rangers are still pursuing relief help even beyond Martin.

• The Rangers expressed an interest in Pirates right-hander but the discussions did not get far.