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Baseball: Rangers' Darvish dealt to Dodgers, Astros' Aoki to Blue Jays

Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish was dealt to the Los Angeles
Dodgers, while Houston Astros outfielder Norichika Aoki was traded to
the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday, the deadline for this year's
non-waiver trade.

The teams involved announced the moves, with 30-year-old Darvish
joining the Dodgers, who lead the National League West Division and
where fellow Japanese right-hander Kenta Maeda plays, as the Rangers
are slipping out of playoff contention in the American League.

"It doesn't really matter what I think. If they trade me, I have
no choice but to go and adjust to the situation as a professional,"
Darvish told reporters. "All I'm thinking about now is to try to
blend in" with his new team.

"It's a great honor to be wanted by a team that has the most
wins," he said. As of Sunday, the Dodgers lead Major League Baseball
with 74 victories this season.

Looking back on his five-and-a-half years with Texas, Darvish
said he is thankful to his teammates and fans for their support.

He was in the final year of a six-year contract with the Rangers
and is set to become an unrestricted free agent after this season.

Asked if he might return to Texas as a free agent, the Osaka
native said, "I intend to talk with various teams, so I can't
anything yet."

The former ace for the Nippon Ham Fighters of Japan's Pacific
League joined the Rangers in 2012 but missed the entire 2015 season
after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

He is 6-9 with a 4.01 ERA in 22 starts this season, though he
was the opening day starter and earned his fourth All-Star nod.

The Rangers will receive three minor league players -- triple-A
second baseman Willie Calhoun, Class A pitcher A.J. Alexy and Class A
infielder Brendon Davis -- in exchange for Darvish.

Meanwhile, Aoki and minor league outfielder Teoscar Hernandez
were traded from the Astros, who sit atop the American League's West
Division, to the Blue Jays, the bottom-place team in the East
Division, for left-handed starter Francisco Liriano.

Aoki, who will play for his sixth team in as many years in the
majors, could not hide his astonishment over his own move.

"I was wondering where Darvish will be dealt when I was told
where I am going, so that was a surprise. I never thought this would
happen to me," the 35-year-old said.

"I joined (Houston) in the spring and have been working hard
with the aim to become the champion so I do have feelings of
disappointment, but I know that this kind of thing happens in the
major leagues so I want to think positively," he added.

Aoki marked the 2,000th hit of his professional career in a game
against the Los Angeles Angels in June, becoming the seventh Japanese
to reach the number playing in Nippon Professional Baseball and the

He 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. (July 31)

Texas Rangers' ace Yu Darvish attends a press conference
in Arlington, Texas, on July 31, 2017, after his trade to
the Los Angeles Dodgers was announced. (Kyodo)