What to do about Yu?
Now that Yu Darvish is officially a Ranger (nice job by our intrepid Rangers beat writer T.R. Sullivan on that crazy deadline. Be sure to read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter at @Sullivan_Ranger), the question is: How to deal with the Japanese right-hander on the prospect front.
It’s not an easy question to answer. In the past, our requirement was rookie status. If a player was eligible for Rookie of the Year voting, he belonged on a prospect ranking. Last year, for instance, we added Tsuyoshi Nishioka to the Twins’ top 10 after he signed, coming in at No. 7.
Darvish, of course, would rank much higher, both on his new organization’s list and on the overall Top 100 (Coming on Jan. 25 if you hadn’t heard). But here’s the thing. I’ve never been all that comfortable with including a player like Darvish on a prospect list. To me, he’s not a prospect. He’s a big leaguer and already an established star in another high-level league. Deciding on what the line is for rankings is always arbitrary, but I adhered to the (admittedly self-imposed) rookie status rule in the past.
I suppose the argument could be made that since the league Darvish is coming from isn’t at the same level as MLB (most put it at a Triple-A-ish level), he should count the same as, say, Matt Moore, also coming up from Triple-A. I just don’t see it that way and the Rangers didn’t just shell out all that cash to get anything but a finished product who will produce right away.
So, in 2012, we’ve decided to take our cue from the newly bargained CBA, as it pertains to international signings. They put particular rules in place about which international players will fall under the international player pool each team will be allotted. More advanced players like Darvish can be signed in the future without it counting against a team’s pool. Neither, by the way, would Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes.
If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for us. So here’s the new rule as it pertains to such international acquisitions:
Not all international players will qualify for these rankings. Prospect Watch will follow the guidelines laid out by the new CBA: Players in leagues deemed to be professional (Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Cuba) and are at least 23 years old and have played a certain number of years in those leagues will not be considered.
So, Mr. Darvish (and Mr. Cespedes eventually), you might qualify to be ROY, but you won’t show up on Prospect Watch.