Texas Rangers Tanking Season to Make Run at Big-Name Free Agent Yu Darvish This Winter?

Stephen Douglas

Yu Darvish was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers right before the trade deadline on Monday. The move further strengthened the Dodgers’ credentials as World Series favorites, but what did it do for the Texas Rangers? Well, it landed them a few prospects and maybe a shot at Yu Darvish in free agency this winter. Wait, what?

At a press conference after Darvish had been traded, multiple reporters asked him if he would consider coming back to the Rangers when he becomes a free agent this summer, which seems kind of weird.

Asking once is weird enough, but a follow-up? Is it possible that Darvish and the Rangers are pulling a long con in a lost season? How long has this been in the works?

Darvish spent the first five seasons of his career as a Ranger. He joined a team coming off back-to-back World Series loses in 2012, but Texas managed just two playoff appearances and zero postseason series wins with Darvish on the roster. After a division series sweep last fall, it must have been clear changes needed to be made. So why not blow it all up? The Rangers went from a 95-win team in 2016 to 19-games out of first place this season.

With all these meddlesome reporters sniffing around it’s not unreasonable to ask if the Rangers knew they were going to tank the 2017 season so that they could sell Darvish to strengthen their farm system. Was the entire lack of a competitive offer of a contract extension pure gamesmanship by the Rangers? Why else would reporters be asking Darvish if he’d return? Isn’t “I don’t think I’m coming back” the exact type of thing you would say to throw people off the scent of you coming back? The Rangers are obviously stealing team-building tricks from the NBA. In turn, they could inspire NBA stars to ask for trades to strengthen their own former teams only to later return. Remember this when Paul George and Victor Oladipo are leading the Pacers to the NBA Finals next season.