- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 18, 2012

ARLINGTON, TEXAS (AP) - Yu Darvish is coming to America to pitch.

Japan’s best pitcher and the Texas Rangers agreed before Wednesday’s deadline to a $60 million, six-year contract. In addition to the salary, the Rangers will pay a posting fee of $51,703,411 to the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters of Japan’s Pacific League.

“We look at this as really a perfect fit,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “Obviously he has yet to pitch in the major leagues, but we feel he has proven himself on a big stage. … “It’s all winning.”

The deal came at the end of a 30-day negotiating window that began Dec. 19 when the Rangers‘ bid to negotiate with the pitcher was accepted.

Had a deal not been reached by the 4 p.m. CST deadline, Darvish would have remained with the Fighters. And Texas, which has been to consecutive World Series without winning the title, would have kept the posting fee that ends with the jersey numbers of Rangers President and Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan (34) and Darvish (11).

When the deal was reached in Texas by his agents Don Nomura and Arn Tellem, the 25-year-old Darvish was home in Japan, where he returned for offseason training after his first and only visit to Texas two weeks ago. The Rangers plan to formally introduce Darvish on Friday night.

Tellem said the Rangers not only spent more time than any other team scouting Darvish, but also built a personal relationship with the pitcher while scouting him. He said the pitcher is excited about the opportunity in Texas.

“It’s a great team that’s been on the door step, and hopefully with Yu coming they will finally reach the goal of winning a World Series,” Tellem said. “Yu is excited about helping a team that has not won achieve that goal. … He’s really thrilled to be coming here. This is where he wanted to be.”

Darvish had a 93-38 record with a 1.99 ERA over the past seven seasons in Japan. The 6-foot-5 right-hander was a two-time Pacific League MVP and a five-time All-Star. He led the league in strikeouts three times, in ERA twice and won two Gold Gloves.

Ryan was impressed by Darvish’s size and attitude about wanting to compete when they met for the first time earlier this month.

“The thing that stood out probably is just his passion for the game and trying to be the best he can possibly be,” Ryan said Wednesday. “One of the motivations about coming to the major leagues here is it’s another challenge for him, it’s an opportunity on a stage that he hasn’t been on to show what he’s capable of doing.”

The deal surpasses what Daisuke Matsuzaka got when he left Japan and signed with the Boston Red Sox just more than five years ago. Dice-K got a $52 million, six-year deal and the Red Sox also had to pay a $51.111 million posting fee that was the highest for a Japanese player before what the Rangers bid for Darvish.

When Ichiro Suzuki used the posting system in 2000 to get to the major leagues, the Seattle Mariners won the right negotiate with a bid of about $13 million, then signed him to a $14 million, three-year contract.

Through last season, 38 Japan-born pitchers had appeared in the major leagues. There were nine last season, including relievers Yoshinori Tateyama and Koji Uehara with the Rangers. Both are still on the 40-man roster in Texas.

Matsuzaka is 49-30 with a 4.25 ERA in 106 games (105 starts) in five seasons with the Red Sox since his high-profile move from the Seibu Lions to Boston in December 2006 when he was 26 years old.

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