What happens if Yu Darvish doesn't sign?

Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan said Thursday and again on Saturday that he's "optimistic" a deal with Yu Darvish will be reached before Wednesday's 4 p.m. central deadline. A Yahoo! Sports report over the weekend said Darvish wants five years and the Rangers six, but even that report indicated there would be surprise if a deal wasn't reached.

I'd be stunned if he's not signed, but you never know what could happen as things get down to the wire. So what if Darvish doesn't sign? The 25-year-old pitcher would be obligated to pitch in Japan in 2012. Consequently, his Japanese team -- Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters -- would not get the $51.7 million posting bid the Rangers submitted last month.

Darvish could go through the posting process again after the 2012 season (no earlier than Nov. 1). His other option is to wait until after the 2013 season, when he'll have enough years of professional baseball in Japan to come to the Major Leagues as a free agent, without going through the posting process. Of course, he'll be two years older and that's two more seasons he wouldn't have pitching in the big leagues.

As for the Rangers, they could turn their attention to Prince Fielder and continue to check into the starting pitching market. They are interested in Roy Oswalt and could look at trade opportunities to upgrade the staff before spring training. Or, they could head to Surprise with the rotation they've got and look to do some kind of deal at the trade deadline.

But I'd be still be surprised if Darvish isn't a Ranger by 4 p.m. on Wednesday.