(Reuters) - The Texas Rangers have won the rights to negotiate exclusively with Japanese pitching ace Yu Darvish after offering what may be the sport's richest ever posting fee, Major League Baseball announced in a statement on Monday.
The 25-year-old right-hander has spent his entire professional career with the Nippon Ham Fighters of Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball Pacific League and is a strikeout specialist, boasting a 96 mph fastball.
Considered the best pitcher in Japanese baseball, the two-times Pacific League most valuable player has a 93-38 career record with a 1.99 earned run average over seven seasons.
He helped the Fighters win the 2006 Japan Series and has represented Japan in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2009 World Baseball Classic.
Born to an Iranian father and Japanese mother, the 6ft-5in (1.96m) starter has never had a losing season and enjoys an overall winning percentage of .710.
The American League champions and Hokkaido-based team have 30 days to reach a deal on a Major League playing contract with no guarantee the Rangers will be successful in procuring Darvish despite winning the bidding process.
(Editing by John O'Brien)