The Washington Nationals scouted the last "next big thing" to come out of Japan. Before Yu Darvish posted and became available to interested Major League teams, Nats' GM Mike Rizzo was asked if the Nationals had scouted Darvish and would consider getting involved in the bidding for the rights to negotiate a deal with the highly-regarded right-hander.
"We scout every player that we have interest in," Rizzo said in October of 2011. "Yu Darvish, specifically, is a player that has a great talent level. We've scouted him over the years, I've scouted him personally over the years, our pro scouts have scouted him this year specifically. We've scouted the whole Japanese Professional League as well as every other international league that plays organized baseball."
"As we've always said," the Nats' GM continued, "we're open to acquire talent in any way, shape or form that we can, and if it's international talent, we're certainly willing to acquire international players."
When the time came to submit bids to the Nippon Ham Fighters Darvish pitched for, however, the Nationals did not submit one. The Texas Rangers bid a record $51.7M for the right to negotiate what ended up being a 6-year/$56M deal for the 25-year-old pitcher who had just completed a 2011 season which saw him go (18-6) with 10 complete games, six shutouts, a 1.44 ERA, 276 K's (10.71 K/9) and 36 BB (1.40 BB/9) in 28 starts and 232.0 IP for the Fighters.
So how much will just-turned-25-year-old, seven-year veteran Masahiro Tanaka command after a 2013 season with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles which saw the 6'2'' right-hander go (24-0) with eight complete games, one shutout, 32 walks (1.36 BB/9) and 183 Ks (7.77 K/9) in 28 games, 27 starts and 212 IP over which he had a 1.27 ERA?
Yahoo!Sports.com's Jeff Passan wrote recently that keeping in mind that Tanaka, as an international free agent, won't, "cost teams a draft pick, like a free agent who receives a qualifying offer, nor would the posting fee count against MLB's luxury tax,"sources told him they think the posting fee could exceed the $51.7M the Rangers paid to negotiate with Darvish.
The Yahoo!Sports.com writer suggests the, "total outlay for Tanaka could easily top $125 million."
In writing about the Nationals' decision not to bid for Yu Darvish when he became available, Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore wrote in December of 2011 that, "In the end... the Nationals determined the cost and risk to acquire Darvish outweighed the potential benefit." The WaPost reporter wrote today that a Nationals official told him the Nats, "have scouted Tanaka in Japan on multiple occasions throughout his career... including late this season."
The Nationals were impressed according to the Washington Post's Nats beat writer. Will they submit a bid this time?
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