At 12:50 p.m. Pacific Time Monday, Yu Darvish took a selfie and posted it to his Twitter account. In the background was his locker in the Texas Rangers’ clubhouse. The implication: Darvish was still under contract to the Rangers. Ten minutes later, he was not.
The Dodgers pulled a last-minute blockbuster to acquire Darvish, a four-time all-star pitcher, in exchange for a package of three prospects headlined by Triple-A second baseman Willie Calhoun. They also acquired two left-handed relievers, Tony Watson from the Pittsburgh Pirates and Tony Cingrani from the Cincinnati Reds, without subtracting a player from their major league roster.
Darvish, 30, is a free agent at the end of this season. He is 6-9 with a 4.01 earned-run average this year, his sixth since jumping to the major leagues from Japan. Darvish is 52-39 with a 3.42 ERA in his career with Texas. He missed all of 2015 recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Darvish immediately provides the Dodgers with a right-handed compliment to Clayton Kershaw missing since Zack Greinke left as a free agent after the 2015 season. In exchange, the Dodgers sent three minor leaguers — Calhoun, infielder Brendon Davis and A.J. Alexy — to the Rangers, who had heavy interest in several of the Dodgers’ top prospects.
In the end, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman was able to hold onto the consensus best pitcher (Walker Buehler) and best hitter (outfielder Alex Verdugo) in the Dodgers’ system while acquiring perhaps the best pitcher to change teams Monday. The Rangers had scouted both players in the last week.
Calhoun, 22, was a consensus top-100 prospect in baseball. He batted .298 with 23 home runs and 67 RBI in 99 games with Triple-A Oklahoma City this year. But his learning curve at second base was steep, leading some evaluators to speculate Calhoun would have an easier transition to the next level in the American League, where he can serve as a designated hitter.
Davis, 20, combined to hit .241 with nine home runs and 43 RBI in 94 games with Single-A Great Lakes and Single-A Rancho Cucamonga this year. The Dodgers selected him in the fifth round of the 2015 draft out of Lakewood High School. Alexy, 19, is 2-6 with a 3.67 ERA in 19 starts with Single-A Great Lakes this year.
Watson, 32, was 5-3 with a 3.66 ERA in 47 appearances out of the Pirates’ bullpen. He has 25 saves the last two seasons but will slot into a set-up role in Los Angeles. The Dodgers sent minor league infielder Oneil…