12/16/11 10:25 AM EST
Cubs, Jays, Rangers among Darvish bidders
Nippon Ham has Tuesday deadline to accept winning offer
By Jon Star / MLB.com
The Jays are said to have posted between $40 million and $50 million for Darvish, according to the New York Post on Thursday, making the club the favorite to land exclusive negotiating rights for the Japanese right-hander.
Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos had no comment for MLB.com when asked about Darvish, citing club policy, but multiple reports pinned his club, GM Jon Daniels' Rangers and Theo Epstein's Cubs as the teams with heavy interest. CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reported a rumor that at least one Darvish bid is supposed to be very high, north of $50 million, but he said that was not confirmed.
Very few teams have commented publicly on Darvish in any way -- never mind officially confirming a bid.
Darvish's club, the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, do not know the identity of the clubs and is reviewing Major League teams' blind offers for the right to exclusively negotiate with the prized 25-year-old righty. The Fighters reportedly have until 5 p.m. ET on Tuesday to accept a bid, at which point the winning Major League club has 30 days to agree to a contract with Darvish. If no deal with Darvish is reached, then the posting fee is returned to the team that won the negotiating rights.
CBS Sports' Danny Knobler reported that the Fighters are expected to accept the high bid, but will not announce the decision until right before Tuesday's deadline.
Multiple reports had the Yankees in on Darvish but modestly. The Giants and Mariners have also been mentioned, but the most recent buzz Thursday afternoon was centered on the Blue Jays.
Perhaps the biggest question surrounding the Darvish sweepstakes is whether the posting fee will surpass the record $51.1 million the Red Sox paid to negotiate and eventually sign Daisuke Matsuzaka in 2006.
Darvish's track record in Japan and his scouting report point toward a pitcher bound for some measure of success in the Major Leagues. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound right-hander went 18-6 with a 1.44 ERA, 276 strikeouts and just 36 walks in 232 innings for the Fighters last season.
Darvish reportedly throws an array of pitches, including two- and four-seam fastballs, a cutter and a bevy of offspeed stuff. He first gained notoriety in the U.S. in 2009, when he led the Japanese national team to a title at that spring's World Baseball Classic.
Jon Star is a reporter for MLB.com. Carrie Muskat contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.