TOKYO- The Texas Rangers have won the right to negotiate with top Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish with a record $51.7 million bid, Yahoo! Sports reported late Monday, citing sources.
Major League Baseball confirmed the Rangers had placed the winning bid in an announcement, but did not disclose the figure.
"The Rangers are an extraordinary franchise in an exceptional city with equally exceptional fans," Darvish's agent Arn Tellem said in a statement.
"Yu is honored to be prized so highly and recognized as a once-in-a-generation pitcher."
Darvish's team, the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, had until 5:00pm local time Tuesday to accept the bid. The Rangers now have a 30-day window to work out a contract with the 25-year-old right-hander.
Darvish will return to the Fighters only if he is unable to agree on a contract with Texas.
"We look forward to getting negotiations underway," added Tellem.
The other teams reported to have submitted bids included the Yankees, Blue Jays and Cubs.
Obtaining Darvish is expected to cost more than $125 million in total as he is reportedly seeking a five-year, $75 million deal.
Darvish went 18-6 with a career-best 1.44 ERA last season, striking out 276 batters and walking only 36 in 232 innings. He led the Pacific League in strikeouts in 2007, 2010 and 2011.