The silence coming out of 1500 South Capitol Street, SE is all that's preserving the possibility that the Washington Nationals outbid the rest of the teams that did bid for the rights to negotiate a deal with 25-year-old Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters' right-hander Yu Darvish. The Nationals aren't mentioned anywhere in the conversation about the posting process that could eventually result in the pitcher widely considered the best starter outside the Major Leagues plying his trade in an MLB city in 2012.
The one report that had all of Toronto talking on Thursday night came from New York Post writer George A. King III, who wrote in an article entitled, "Blue Jays believed to outbid Yankees, others for Darvish", that he'd spoken to, "sources with knowledge of the situation," who told him that what was rumored to be a posting fee, "... above $40 million and possibly close to $50 million," had people considering, "... the Blue Jays [as] the favorites to land the negotiating rights to Yu Darvish."
Apparently the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters do intend on waiting until it gets close to the 5:00 pm EST Tuesday (12/20) deadline to announce the name of the team that won the bidding for Darvish. CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler wrote Thursday night in an article entitled, "Darvish: Fighters expected to accept Tuesday", that signs were pointing toward Toronto winning the bidding, with the Rangers making a strong push and the Yankees involved, but not seriously considered contenders. Mr. Knobler (@DKnobler) wrote on Twitter Thursday night about the reason for the Fighters waiting to make the announcement, explaining that, "People familiar with Japanese baseball say it looks better for team to wait, showing they're not anxious to get rid of star player."
Darvish's agent Don Nomura (@DonNomura) said the announcement would likely be made this coming Tuesday when the deadline to submit bids passed this past Wednesday, writing on Twitter 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."
Dallas Morning News' Rangers baseball writer Gerry Fraley wrote Thursday in an article entitled, "Signs point toward Toronto as winner of rights to Darvish", that, "The growing consensus among officials with several major-league clubs is Toronto will surpass the Texas Rangers and win the negotiating rights to Japanese righthander Yu Darvish." The insight was, however, offered with the qualification that, "none of these officials has direct knowledge of the offers." As CBSSports.com's Mr. Knobler mentioned, not even Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters' officials will know the identify of the team before Tuesday's deadline.
Did the Nationals bid? If they did, they're not saying. FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) wrote on Twitter Thursday night that Washington was still interested in Oakland A's lefty Gio Gonzalez, and the Nats, "... view #WhiteSox's Danks as Plan B. After missing out on Buehrle, LH starter remains Nats' priority." Gonzalez's name came up in connection to the Nats during the Winter Meetings, but as D.C. GM Mike Rizzo told reporters before the Nationals' brass left Texas, "We've got several different options that we're exploring, some free agent, some via the trade routes and some international options, so we're still open for business and we're going to keep an open mind and see what fits for us."
Mark Buehrle was the Nats' Plan A this winter, whether or not Darvish was Plan B we might never know. Davey Johnson's on record saying he's comfortable going into the season with what the Nationals have in terms of pitching, but if you believe the rumors out there, they're still in the market. D.C. GM Mike Rizzo's front office has maintained their trademark silence thus far, offering no particulars while openly stating their desire to add an arm to the rotation. The cost to do so is going to be high whether it's prospects in a trade, a free agent deal or the kind of posting fee it appears will be necessary to outbid the rest of Yu Darvish's suitors.