LOS ANGELES - Yu Darvish is coming to Dodger Stadium — plus a pair of relief pitchers — in an effort to boost Los Angeles to its first World Series appearance in 29 years.
Darvish was acquired from Texas for three prospects just before Monday’s deadline to make trades without waivers. Los Angeles, a major league-best 74-31, also acquired former All-Star reliever Tony Watson from Pittsburgh for a pair of minor leaguers and left-hander Tony Cingrani from Cincinnati for utility man Scott Van Slyke and a minor leaguer.
“It’s an honor to be wanted by the team,” Darvish said in Texas through a translator.
Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke weren’t enough to pitch Los Angeles to the World Series for the first time since 1988, when the Dodgers won their sixth title.
Darvish, a 30-year-old right-hander, is in the midst of his worst season in the majors. The four-time All-Star, who returned last year from Tommy John surgery, is 6-9 with a 4.01 ERA in 22 starts. He is coming off his poorest outing since coming to the major leagues in 2012, allowing 10 runs in 3⅔ innings against Miami last week.
“It was in the last 15 minutes,” Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi said, explaining how the trade got finalized. “Certainly for a deal of this magnitude, that’s cutting it pretty close.”
Darvish has been better on the road this season, with a 2.49 ERA in 10 starts despite receiving the third-lowest run support among AL pitchers. With Kershaw again on the disabled list with a back injury, Los Angeles had been seeking to add an arm.
“One of the things that’s made him so effective is his assortment of pitches,” Zaidi said. “The fastball, the ability to reach 95, 96, 97 mph (153, 155, 156 kph) the ability to kind of take something off. He’s got a couple really good off-speed pitches and a couple really good breaking balls.
“Coming to a new league, I think there’s going to be adjustment period on the part of the NL and that will really be an advantage for him,” the GM said.
Darvish should feel at home in Los Angeles. He becomes the seventh Japan-born pitcher for the Dodgers, who already have right-handed starter Kenta Maeda. The best known of the group was Hideo Nomo, who created a sensation known as “Nomomania” in 1995 when he started for the National League in the All-Star Game and earned NL Rookie of the Year honors.
Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts was born in Japan, too.
“Dodger Nation should be excited!” team co-owner Magic Johnson tweeted.
Darvish, Watson and Cingrani will cost the Dodgers about $12.2 million for the rest of the season: $6.24 million in salary and the rest in luxury tax at a 95 percent rate because Los Angeles already was above the highest threshold.
In exchange for Darvish, the Dodgers sent second baseman Willie Calhoun, right-hander A.J. Alexy and shortstop Brandon Davis to Texas. Calhoun is rated the fourth-best prospect in the Dodgers’ system, while Alexy is 17th and Davis is 27th, according to MLB.com.
Darvish is 52-39 with a 3.42 ERA in 122 starts with the Rangers
“It’s been great,” he said of his time in Texas. “My teammates, my fans. I have nothing but appreciation for everyone here.”
Darvish can become a free agent after the World Series.
Aoki dealt to Blue Jays
The Houston Astros outfielder Norichika Aoki was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays, ahead of the 2017 non-waiver deadline, U.S. media reported Monday.
The Astros acquired left-handed starter Francisco Liriano from the Blue Jays in exchange for Aoki and minor league outfielder Teoscar Hernandez.
The 35-year-old Aoki, who will play for his sixth team in as many years in the majors, had 1,284 hits during his eight seasons in the NPB with the Tokyo-based Yakult Swallows.
Aoki is hitting .272 with two home runs and 19 RBIs in 202 at-bats this season.