The Post-2011 MLB Winter Meetings Big Question: Are The Washington Nationals Going For Yu Darvish?

From what New York Yankees' GM Brian Cashman said during a recent MLB Network Radio interview you'd be led to believe that NY won't be bidding on Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters' right-hander Yu Darvish over the next four business days before the 5:00 pm EST Wednesday (12/14) deadline to submit bids for the 25-year-old pitcher. Darvish announced last night he would be entering the posting process and looking to make the move to the majors. After talking about all the big-money contracts the Yankees already have, Cashman said, "I think if you follow the breadcrumbs of our conversation we just had. I think you can deduce a lot," about the Yankees' intentions.

"I think chasing anything that's going to be very costly," the Yankees' GM continued, "... if you're the media I think you'll be at risk of putting us in those categories right now." ESPN.com's Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) wrote on the Twitter today that he was hearing the same thing, "Yankees unsure about whether they will be bidding on Yu Darvish. Their interest reminds me of their feelings about C.J. Wilson: Lukewarm." Oddly enough that was the same adjective Toronto Sun writer Bob Elliot used to describe the Blue Jays' interest a week or so ago in an article entitled, "Jays target closer Bell", in which he wrote that we should, "Consider the Jays interest lukewarm," since "insiders" told him, "Jays president Paul Beeston is not a fan of the current posting system in place," which is expected to (between the posting fee and contract if one's agreed upon) cost whichever team wins the bidding close to $100 million dollars.

Jays' GM Alex Anthopolous declined to comment when he was asked if Toronto would get involved in the posting process, telling New York Times' writer David Waldstein in an article entitled, "Japanese Team Makes Its Star Pitcher Available", that he, "'... would never talk about that publicly. Obviously, he is a very talented pitcher, and I think it’s good for baseball if he comes to pitch here, but I would not comment any more than that.'"

D.C. GM Mike Rizzo, whose Nationals are mentioned in the NY Times' article as potential suitors, wasn't ready to publicly commit to participating in the process either, telling reporters, including Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore who quoted the general manager in a Nationals Journal post entitled, "Yu Darvish will be posted, and the Nationals are interested", that, "'Strategically, that doesn’t benefit us to announce whether we’re going to bid or not on him. We’ve scouted him. We like him. We recognize his ability levels.'"

"'He’s an extremely talented player,'" Brian Cashman's quoted stating in the NYTimes' Mr. Waldstein's article, "'I don’t think that’s in dispute. But in terms of how it transitions and everything like that, I wouldn’t want to speculate.'" The Red Sox, another oft-rumored suitor, aren't sure if they'll get involved either, at least according to new GM Ben Cherington, who told reporters in a Winter Meetings-closing press conference transcribed at Boston.com that for the Red Sox, "'I'm not sure the timing this offseason puts us in a position to be the most aggressive team. But he's a good pitcher and we have a lot of respect for him. We'll certainly discuss it and figure out if a [bid] makes sense.'"

"Cherington said the #RedSox were lukewarm on the idea of adding Darvish," Boston Globe Red Sox beat writer Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) wrote on the Twitter Thursday after the press conference referenced above, "Didn't anticipate trying to get him." "Certainly if a team is going to be posting and trying to sign [Darvish]," the Sox' GM told reporters, "it's going to be part of the front end of the rotation and we feel pretty good about that part of our team." Is anyone going to bid on Darvish? How about the Texas Rangers, whose GM traveled to Japan to scout Darvish this year? According to a report by DallasNews.com's Evan Grant entitled, "Report: Yu Darvish to be posted; will Rangers play?", his sources, "... have indicated the Rangers simply aren't willing to make a $100 million gamble that may limit future flexibility. Especially since Darvish is unproven."

Perhaps the prevailing sentiment on display here is what led Darvish's agent to tell reporters recently as quoted in a Sports Hochi article transcribed at Yakubaka.com, "... that if they can not get an offer that is considered 'appropriate for Japan's Ace,' they will simply withdraw from negotiations and Darvish will return to Japan in 2012."

Still the Rangers are pointed to as the likely destination for Darvish by executives quoted by the NY Times' Mr. Waldstein and the Yankees, Blue Jays and even the Oakland Athletics are mentioned by FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal as teams that will be involved in the bidding with the Red Sox a reluctant "wild card" in the process according to the bow-tied FOXSports.com reporter due to their past experience with the posting process when they signed the last great Japanese pitcher, Daisuke Matsuzaka. Yahoo!Sports.com's Jeff Passan points to the Rangers and Jays are the favorites to land Darvish, and mentions the Chicago Cubs, LA Dodgers, Angels, Mariners, Nationals and even the Marlins as other possibilities.

Darvish's father is quoted in articles translated at Yakubaka.com decrying the posting system and reiterating that both his son and the Nippon Ham Fighters he's pitched for the last seven years understand this could all end with the right-hander returning for an eighth season. "If you spend a lot of money on the posting fee," Darvish's father is quoted stating, "there is a chance negotiations will not go well because that amount (or close to it) is deducted from the salary." $20-$50 million for the posting fee and another $50-$60M over 5-6 years in a contract? Will any MLB team go that high? Will Yu Darvish pitch in an MLB city next season?

The first part of the posting process concludes next Wednesday at 5:00 pm EST...

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