The Rangers won negotiating rights with Darvish with a bid of approximately $51.7 million before Christmas and have until 4 p.m. CT on Jan. 18 to sign him to a contract. If they are unable to do so, Darvish will return to the Nippon Ham Fighters, his former team in Japan.Darvish, according to a report out of Japan, wanted to get a sense of the atmosphere and environment of the area, and get "valuable information before negotiations begin in earnest." Darvish is represented by agents Don Nomura and Arm Tellem. Talks have begun, according to sources, but have not significantly progressed to where a signing is imminent. The Rangers appear to have tabled other player acquisitions until they are able to get a sense of what it would take to sign Darvish. The Rangers lost out on reliever Darren Oliver, who agreed to terms with the Blue Jays last week on a one-year deal. Speculation is that Darvish could command a contract similar to the five-year, $77.5 million contract that C.J. Wilson received from the Angels at the Winter Meetings last month. Darvish was 18-6 with a 1.44 ERA and 276 strikeouts in 28 games for the Nippon Ham Fighters in 2011. He pitched 232 innings and it was his fifth straight season with an ERA under 2.00. He has won three strikeout and two ERA titles in Japan. He has also twice been named the Most Valuable Player of the Pacific League. Darvish would join a team with a set rotation of Derek Holland, Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison, Alexi Ogando and Neftali Feliz, with Scott Feldman in reserve. They also have several top pitching prospects getting close in left-hander Martin Perez and right-hander Neil Ramirez. If the Rangers do sign Darvish, they are unlikely to rush in making a decision about their rotation right away.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.