By BETH HARRIS, AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) — 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 utilityman 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 3 2/3 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 while receiving the third-fewest 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, 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.
The Dodgers open a nine-game trip in Atlanta on Tuesday, when Maeda is set to start. Zaidi said logistics were being worked out on when the players would join the team.
Even before Kershaw went on the disabled list for the second straight year, the Dodgers were in search of a complementary ace and had been in talks with Texas for two weeks.
Rich Hill has been bothered by blisters, Hyun-Jin Ryu is just off the DL after being bothered by a bruised left foot. Brandon McCarthy went on the DL at the same time as Kershaw last week.
“We were trying to balance making the team better without disrupting what we have,” Zaidi said. “It’ll be an emotional boost for the team.”
Darvish is 52-39 with a 3.42 ERA in 122 starts with the Rangers, who acquired him in January 2012 after he spent seven seasons with the Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan’s Pacific League.
“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. Asked whether he would consider rejoining the Rangers, he responded: “Just going to have to wait and see until we get to the offseason. Just for example, like Rangers did offer me like very low money, I’m not going to sign. I think I’m going to talk to all the teams available willing to talk to me and see what happens.”
Los Angeles sent 21-year-old right-hander Angel (Hair-mawn) German and 18-year-old infielder Oneil (Own-yell) Cruz to Pittsburgh. The Dodgers traded Van Slyke and minor league catcher Hendrik Clementina to the Reds for Cingrani.
Cingrani has a 5.40 ERA in 23 1/3 innings this season and Watson 5-3 with a 3.66 ERA in 47 games for the Pirates this season. Watson had 10 saves after starting the season as Pittsburgh’s closer blew consecutive chances in June and was replaced as closer by Felipe Rivero.
Watson, an All-Star in 2014, also becomes a free agent at season’s end.
German is 1-0 with a 1.91 ERA and seven saves for Class A Great Lakes this season.
Cruz hit .240 with 36 RBIs and eight home runs in 89 games for Great Lakes.
In order to create room on the 40-man roster, the Dodgers designated outfielder Peter O’Brien and infielder-outfielder Mike Freeman for assignment.
AP Sports Writer Stephen Hawkins in Arlington, Texas, and AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum in New York contributed to this report.
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