According to Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker (with a hat tip to the incomparable Drew Silva of NBC Hardball Talk for digging it up), Yu Darvish will be posted by the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters at some point either today or Friday.
Darvish is one of the most, if not THE most, promising pitching prospect to come out of Japan. Many have compared him to Daisuke Matsuzaka, but that’s really not fair. While Dice-K was spectacular pitching in Japan, he never exhibited the same level of dominance Darvish has shown over the past few years. He’s a four time All-Star who produced a disgusting 18-7 record, 1.44 ERA and 276/36 K/BB ratio across 232 innings this past season for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters.
According to a scouting report written by Lincoln Hamilton of Project Prospect, Darvish is armed with an impressive six-pitch arsenal that includes a four-seamer, two-seamer, cutter, slider, change-up, and shuuto. His fastball-type pitches have good late breaking movement that keep hitters off balance and induce weak contact. His velocity typically stays in the 93-95 MPH range, although does touch 96-97 at times. He has two types of sliders, one with vertical movement and the other that’s more horizontal. Both appear to be “whiff” offerings. His control (as evidenced by his K/BB ratio) is considered to be elite for now, but that may change upon entering the majors. Pitching to more advanced hitters with a larger baseball could have an effect on the way he pitches. It certainly did with Dice-K.
It’s unclear how much Darvish would command via the posting process. Considering his age, hype, and talent; it stands to reason the price would start around Dice-K’s $51.1M posting fee and go from there. With free agent talent being incredibly thin this winter, it’s very possible we could see the winning bidder come in with a $75M post.
Per MLB Trade Rumors, the Rangers and Blue Jays are reportedly interested in making bids for the 25 year old right hander. This makes sense since the Rangers are about to lose C.J. Wilson to either then Angels or Marlins, and the Blue Jays have a TON of payroll flexibility for 2012 and beyond. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see the titans (Yankees, Red Sox, and Cubs) get involved as well; especially with an eye towards signing him to a backloaded long-term contract. Keep in mind posting fees are not included with luxury tax calculations, so teams are spending “free money” so to speak. At the very least, it’s something for the Red Sox to consider.
What are your thoughts on Darvish? Should the Red Sox make a run at the Japanese phenom, or should they stay the course and look for value in trades and via free agency.