ARLINGTON -- Negotiations with Yu Darvish have been kept under wraps by the Texas Rangers and the agents for the Japanese star, but talks appear to be heading toward a deal ahead of next week's deadline.
Team president Nolan Ryan said on Thursday night that he is anticipating that a contract will be hammered out before 4 p.m. Wednesday, when the 30-day window to sign Darvish expires.
Ryan conveyed his thoughts only moments before the Dr Pepper Awards Show, which leads into the annual Fan Fest this weekend at the Arlington Convention Center.
Work remains to be done before the contract is finalized, though two baseball sources said that Darvish has already passed his physical. But the sides could be down to ironing out the final details.
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"My expectations are that we'll get something done," Ryan said. "It's a process. During the period that we negotiate with someone we really don't talk about it, but I'm optimistic we'll get something done."
Darvish visited the area last week, and submitted to a physical exam performed by Rangers doctors and trainers during his quick two-day visit. The 6-foot-5 ace for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters also met with Ryan, and left a favorable impression.
"He was bigger than I thought," Ryan said. "He's built like a pitcher. He looks good. He understands a lot of English. I just liked his attitude about wanting to compete. He represented what I'd been led to believe, so I felt really good about it."
Ryan has also watched video of Darvish, who is 93-38 with a 1.99 ERA in seven seasons in Nippon Professional Baseball. He throws a fastball that usually tops out at 95 mph.
"He has a feel for the breaking ball and has a good fastball," Ryan said. "His feel for being able to do something with the baseball is really encouraging."
Rangers players have only a passing knowledge of Darvish, though they would welcome him to the team if he agrees to terms. Outfielder David Murphy has seen video and said that Darvish is bigger and throws harder than previous Japanese pitchers who have come to the majors.
Designated hitter Michael Young, though, only knows what he's told been told -- that Darvish is a "very good" player.
"Very good players are always welcome," Young said.
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760