According to two reports, by Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore and then confirmed by MLB.com's Bill Ladson, sources are saying that the Washington Nationals did not place a bid in the posting process for 25-year-old Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters' right-hander Yu Darvish. The Nats reportedly scouted the 6'5'' starter extensively over the last few years, including a 2011 season in which Darvish dominated the competition in Japan, finishing his seventh and what could be his final season in NPB's Pacific League with an (18-6) record and 10 complete games, six of them shutouts in 28 starts over which he had a sub-2.00 ERA (1.44) for the fifth straight year and 276 K's (10.71 K/9) in 232.0 IP in which he gave up 42 runs, 37 of them earned, and 36 walks (1.40 BB/9). When the deadline to submit bids arrived, however, the Nationals apparently decided not to participate in the process.
Though nothing is confirmed, and reports say nothing will be until next Tuesday's (12/20) 5:00 pm EST deadline for the Nippon Ham Fighters to accept a bid, the Toronto Blue Jays are rumored to have placed the highest one, reportedly going as high as $40-$50 milion for the posting fee which allows whichever team wins the rights to exclusively negotiate a deal with Darvish. If a deal can't be reached, Darvish could return to the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters and reenter the posting process next winter or wait until after the 2013 season when he'll become a free agent.
D.C. GM Mike Rizzo declined to comment when asked if the Nats would enter a bid for the posting fee for Darvish during the recently-concluded Winter Meetings in the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, TX, explaining to reporters that "strategically" it served no purpose to reveal whether or not a bid for Darvish was Plan B in their attempts to add pitching after they'd missed out on their top target, Mark Buehrle, who signed with Washington's NL East rivals in Miami. Plan B for the Nationals, according to a report by FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) at least, is for the Nats to pursue one of two starters in a trade:
"#Nationals also want [Gio] Gonzalez, view #WhiteSox's [John] Danks as Plan B. After missing out on Buehrle, LH starter remains Nats' priority."
From what CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) wrote on Twitter this morning, the Oakland A's asking price for Gonzalez, a 26-year-old left-hander who finished his fourth major league season in 2011 with a (16-12) record, 3.12 ERA, 3.64 FIP, 91 walks (4.05 BB/9) and 197 K's (8.78 K/9) in 202.0 IP, hasn't come down much since the rumor that he could be had for the right price first surfaced. "For Gio [Gonzalez], A's seek huge package ([Jesus] Montero, [Manuel] Banuelos, betances, etc)," Mr. Heyman wrote earlier this afternoon, adding, "Yankees love him but not THAT much."
FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) first wrote during the Winter Meetings that his sources were tellling him you could, "Add #Nationals to list of teams pursuing #Athletics' Gonzalez," though there were conflicting reports at the time about the left-hander's availability with Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) writing at the start of the of the Winter Meetings that, "Two AL execs say they like Gio Gonzalez best among pitchers possibly available. GM [Billy] Beane telling teams not anxious to trade."
As FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal wrote in a follow-up report, Gonzalez is a valuable asset for the A's or any interested team because the left-hander is, "... in his first year of arbitration eligibility and under club control for four more years." MLB.com writer Jane Lee speculated that the A's stadium issues could force them to make some tough moves this winter, writing last week that they're believed to be considering, "... trading Gonzalez in an effort to net a handful of prospects that could welcome in fans to a potential new stadium in San Jose in a few years."
Bob Klapisch of the Bergen Record in New Jersey and NorthJersey.com heard the same names as CBSSports.com's Mr. Heyman when he wrote about the Yankees' inquiries on Gonzalez, noting that he'd heard the, "A's asked #Yankees for either [Manny] Banuelos or [Dellin] Betances, plus [Jesus] Montero for Gio Gonzalez. Not happening."
Washington Times' writer Amanda Comak (@AComak) spoke to a source during the Winter Meetings, reporting that she'd, "Presented Gio Gonzalez's name to one source & he didn't exactly jump at it. Teams are kicking tires on just about everyone out there."
In writing about the New York Yankees' interest in White Sox' left-hander John Danks, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman reported that Chicago was looking at the same prospects the A's wanted for Gonzalez. "[White Sox] asked for 2 of Montero/Banuelos/Betances for Danks," Mr. Heyman wrote on Twitter, "Yankees might -- might -- give up 1 in a package. worth watching." The Yankees, Red Sox and Rangers have all been mentioned as potential suitors for Danks. In 2011, the 26-year-old '03 Rangers' 1st Round pick went on the DL for the first time in his career with an oblique issue, but finished his fifth major league campaign with an (8-12) record in 27 starts and 170.1 IP, posting a 4.33 ERA, 3.82 FIP, 7.13 K/9 and 2.43 BB/9.
A bid for Yu Darvish would have cost the Nationals upwards of $100M by most estimates after the posting fee and contract were worked out. Their choices now, if they have the prospects to get a deal for a Gonzalez or Danks done?Make a trade and part with the sort of prospects teams like the A's and White Sox will want in return, reconsider giving Roy Oswalt a multi-year deal if the 34-year-old veteran's still insisting on more than a one-year deal, or go into the 2012 season with the rotation they have.
"We like the rotation that we have," Rizzo said recently during an MLB Network Radio interview after he learned the Nats missed out on Buehrle, "It's very young, but it's very deep and talented. So, we'll have to see where we're at and corral the troops and see where we go from here." Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmerman, Chien-Ming Wang, John Lannan and one of Ross Detwiler, Tommy Milone or Brad Peacock. Davey Johnson said he's fine with that, but the Nats' GM and front office are clearly interested in adding pitching. Where they'll find it?