Japanese superstar Yu Darvish has confirmed that he will be posted on Friday, and the Washington Nationals are already amongst the favorites to sign him.
The 25-year-old – widely regarded as the finest pitcher not playing Major League Baseball – currently pitches for Nippon Ham Fighters. This season, he went 18-6 with a 1.44 ERA and 276 strikeouts for the Fighters. Those are unusually strong numbers for most pitchers, but not Darvish, who has laid down similar figures in all of his six seasons.
Darvish is likely to be coveted by many MLB teams, but it’s known that the Nationals have already scouted him extensively. Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo played it coy when he told The Washington Post:
“Strategically, that doesn’t benefit us to announce whether we’re going to bid or not on him. We’ve scouted him. We like him. We recognize his ability levels.”
A Nationals team with Darvish would result in a captivating combination of Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Darvish at the top of their rotation. All men are 25 or under, and the trio would be tied to the team for years. And, while Japanese pitchers new to the MLB have historically not done well, Darvish’s bigger physique means he may overcome hurdles faced by his countrymen.
However, he will not come cheap, with some pundits talking about a $100 million total price for his services. Rizzo is not one for getting carried away:
“I think you have to first approximate what your tolerance threshold is on what you would pay in total, with the posting fee and with the major league contract. You have to strategically put together a plan to A, get the player in the post and, B, see if you can afford to pay the fee for the posting and then sign the player to a major league contract.”