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Washington Nationals' Involvement A Mystery, Winning Bid For Yu Darvish A Mystery Too.

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The 5:00 pm EST deadline to submit bids for the rights to negotiate with Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters' right-hander Yu Darvish passed this afternoon without any announcement of which MLB team had submitted the highest bid. There was some talk that the identiy of the winning bidder would be revealed either Wednesday night or this (Thursday) morning, but as of 5:00 am EST (6:50 pm in Japan) twelve hours after the deadline, no such report had emerged. MLB officials, following the procedures of the posting process, were to have informed the Fighters' owners of the high bid at 5:00 pm EST or 7:00 am in Japan on Wednesday.

One of the 25-year-old pitcher's agents, Don Nomura (@DonNomura), explained the process on Twitter just after the deadline passed, writing that, "Bidding time came and gone. MLB send(s) high bid to [Japan], 4 [business] days to respond to bid then winner announced. Long wait."

Hokkaido Nippon Ham has until next Tuesday to announce the results of the bidding...

The four day period to submit bids for the posting fee for 29-year-old Seibu Lions' infielder Hiroyuki Nakajima ended on December 3, 2011, but the highest bidders, the New York Yankees, weren't announced as such until four days later on December 7th. Last winter, the deadline for 29-year-old Rakuten Golden Eagles' right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma was on November 5th. Iwakuma too was represented by Don Nomura, who reported via Twitter two days later that the Oakland A's had submitted the winning bid.

The majority of reports last night were from beat writers around the country who'd been told their respective teams hadn't submitted bids. Boston Globe writer Nick Cafardo (@NickCafardo) wrote on Twitter that the Red Sox had not in the end submitted a bid. Star Tribune Twins beat writer Joe Christensen (@JoeChristensen) ruled Minnesota out. MASNSports.com's Rich Kubatko wrote Baltimore out in an article entitled, "Orioles passing on Darvish, introducing Wada Thursday."

Mr. Kubatko's colleague at MASNSports.com, Pete Kerzel wrote at around the same time in an article entitled, "Deadline passes, Rizzo mum on Darvish", that Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo had declined to comment on whether or not the Nats' submitted a bid for Darvish in an appearance Rizzo made on MASN Wednesday after the deadline had passed. While the Nats remained silent about their intentions, Chicago Tribune writer Phil Rogers (@ChicTribRogers) reported that a source told him the Cubs had in fact submitted a bid. ESPN.com's Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) wrote that in spite of recent comments downplaying their interest, the New York Yankees too had submitted a bid, though it was later said to be "modest."

Seven or eight hours after the deadline passed, the reports finally slowed down. The LA Angels did not bid. Neither did the Tampa Bay Rays. The St. Louis Cardinals did not submit a bid. CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler (@DKnobler) had the one sort-of-update of the night that had everyone talking. "Still don't know what the number of winning bid for Darvish was," Mr. Knobler wrote on Twitter, "but sources say the [Nippon Ham] Fighters were very excited by how high it was." Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) too heard the Fighters would likely be happy, as he reported on Twitter that the, "Rumor is, at least [one] Darvish bid was "sky" high. may have been 'north' of $50M. again, unconfirmed."

Twelve hours after the deadline to submit bids passed, this is where the rumors and anonymous sources had things:

Rumored in: Yanks, Jays, Cubs.

Rumored out: Red Sox, Orioles, Rays, Angels, Cards, Twins, Marlins. Mets, A’s, Giants.

The Yankees, Jays, Rangers and Cubs were all believed to have submitted bids, with Texas and Toronto still viewed as front runners in most reports. Still no word from the Washington Nationals. How long will the baseball world have to wait to learn which team wins the right to negotiate with Yu Darvish? Some reports said the answer could come out as early as this morning, but as noted the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters have until next Tuesday at 5:00 pm EST to accept the bid. Then the winning team has 30 days to work out a deal. Where will Yu Darvish be pitching when the 2012 season begins?