The Yu Darvish derby is about to be winnowed down to a single team. The deadline to submit a bid to negotiate with the 25-year-old Japanese right-hander was Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. ET, and there's a trickle of information coming out. MLB Trade Rumors has a great collection of tweets and links from beat writers confirming who did or did not make a bid. And there are some obvious surprises:
There are all sorts of bombshells like those ones. But if there is a legitimate twist, it's that the Yankees were not believed to have bid very much. Though it's possible that a "modest bid" for the Yankees might be the $500 million that they just got around to getting out of the office vending machines, it seems like they are not leading the sweepstakes.
The Red Sox were another team that was linked to the possibility of a Darvish bid -- one of the stories that flew under the radar last season was how Boston's pitching collapsed in September. According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, though, the Sox did not make a bid on Darvish.
The names that keep coming up are the Rangers and Blue Jays, with the Rangers looking to replace C.J. Wilson at the top of their rotation, and the Blue Jays looking to spend a little of that money they probably wished they had just thrown at Roy Halladay.
Jeff Passan relays this quote about Darvish, suggesting that just because a team bids $50 million on the rights to negotiate with him, that doesn't mean that they can get away with a small contract offer:
"He’s got more leverage than any Japanese [player] I’ve seen," one executive said. "It’s not like with Hideki Matsui where he wanted to prove himself here. I don’t get that sense with Darvish. He can go back, make a ton of money and be perfectly happy. This isn’t his be-all, end-all."
That might be the most important quote in the article, but my favorite one is this:
"Some idiot is going to put in a crazy bid because they always do when there’s an elite Japanese player,"
I read that quote in Brian Sabean's voice, but your mileage may vary. But the indications are that there's a team that has put in a crazy bid, and while the Blue Jays and Rangers have been linked closely to Darvish, don't rule out the Nationals, who stunned the baseball world with their contract to Jayson Werth, and have been pursing pitching all offseason. The Cubs are also a deep-pocketed team, and Phil Rogers confirms that they also made a bid.
The Nippon Ham Fighters have another three days to decide on their bid, but Danny Knobler of CBS Sports notes that the Fighters were "very excited" by the bid amount, which means they'll likely take it. That would give the winning team 30 days to negotiate with Darvish under the Byzantine rules of the posting system.
This is all quite exciting, but upon further inspection, if I had to choose one piece from the Nippon Ham Fighters to come over, it might be their former mascot, Fighty:
Fighty (retired): a bright pink pterodactyl whose head resembled a giant leg of ham and who sometimes rode a bicycle around the field.
That's not a mascot. That's poetry. Here's hoping that Darvish's performance in the majors is half as sublime.