Via Hardball Talk:
FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal heard from a source Saturday that right-hander Yu Darvish is likely to be “posted” this winter, meaning teams in Major League Baseball will have a crack at luring him away from the Nippon Ham Fighters.
Darvish is only 24 and widely considered one of the top pitchers in Japan. He has won two MVP awards in his first five seasons of professional baseball and became the youngest player in Japanese baseball history to be given a contract worth more than 300 million yen (about $3.5 million US) when he re-signed with Nippon last season.
He will have no trouble topping that salary if and when he signs with a team state-side. The Yankees, according to Rosenthal, have been watching every one of his starts and other teams are sure to step forward with bids as well.
Lots of players have come over from Japan in recent years, but aside from Hideki Matsui and Ichiro Suzuki none have become superstars. That’s important to consider because regardless of whether Darvish does or doesn’t become a superstar, he will cost superstar-type money.
Previous big name pitchers from Japan, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Hideki Irabu, and to a lesser extent Hideo Nomo have all flopped (Nomo did have some level of success for a short period). Of course all Yankee fans remember Kei Igawa as well. So this has left me skeptical of the latest big name pitcher to come out of Japan, but Patrick Newman of FanGraphs thinks differently.
Newman points out that Darvish has consistently put up better numbers than Dice-K ever did, he has multiple major league level pitches, has strong velocity, changes speeds well, and has youth on his side. He does raise concerns about the fact that he isn’t a huge strikeout pitcher, has a lot of mileage on his young arm, and questions about his makeup and ability to succeed in the United States (Darvish has been outspoken about not wanting to pitch in America).
In the end, I think the Yankees should be cautiously aggressive. They should certainly be involved in this situation and bid aggressively. But they should bid realistically. If there are other teams who could bid $50 million plus for his services they should probably bow out. It seems like he could be better than the best pitcher who has ever come over from Japan, but adapting to pitching in the States could take some time and the pressure of pitching in New York could prolong that. If almost two seasons are lost to an adjustment period, this contract probably wouldn’t be worth it.
Assuming their no. 1 target is still Cliff Lee that would give the Yankees a guaranteed rotation of CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee, A.J. Burnett, and Phil Hughes. Andy Pettitte could return as well and even at his advanced age, he still seems like a much better bet than Darvish.
What are your thoughts? Should the Yankees target Darvish this offseason?
Here are Darvish’s stats for 2007-2009: