According to a Cubs’ source, the front office is interested in Japanese ace, Yu Darvish, who could be posted (made available to MLB teams) later this Winter. The level of interest is, of course, dependent on the cost to acquire Darvish. Landing the 25-year-old righty will take, first, a posting fee (which could range anywhere from $25 to $50 million), and second, a multi-year contract for as much as $10 to $15 million per year.
Making that kind of investment means the Cubs will have to be certain that they’re getting a solid pitcher, who will transition well to MLB and life in the States. To that end, another source recently told the Sun-Times that “the Cubs have been doing background work” on Darvish. The team isn’t going to go into the bidding process on Darvish blind.
If that bidding process happens, that is. As each week passes and Darvish is not posted, the fear that he will not be posted grows. Even if he is posted, the process takes time, and a team committed to bidding on Darvish may have to forego other free agent or trade options while they wait out the Darvish resolution.
But, all scouts who’ve discussed Darvish agree: he’s better than Daisuke Matsuzaka was when Daisuke made the leap, and he has true ace potential. I more extensively laid out my thoughts on Darvish back in August, when it started to become realistic that he would be posted this Winter. From that post:
Why wouldn’t you want to take a chance on a lottery ticket like Darvish? Expecting him to duplicate his Japanese results in MLB would be a mistake, but there’s no reason to be certain he couldn’t be a good Major League starter. In case this year didn’t shock your system to the truth: those guys can be pretty hard to find.
I say I would agree in a vacuum, because the money’s the thing. It always is.
I doubt a team is going to do the $50+ million posting thing again (and then another $50 million for the contract), but would $25 million be excessive? That would buy your team the exclusive right to make a deal with Darvish for six years. If he gets the $50ish million that Matsuzaka got on a contract, that’s a $75 million investment for six (prime) years of control. Would you sign Darvish, today, to a six-year, $75 million contract? I’m not sure what I would do, but it’s certainly an interesting discussion.
For now, we’ll have to wait and see if he’s posted this Winter, and, if he is, whether the Cubs will sniff around at the bidding. It seems likely that they would, not only because of their need for pitching, but because true Japanese superstars like Darvish can offer teams in a large market additional revenue streams. For what it’s worth, MLBTR recently confirmed that Darvish does have American representation on the agent side. It would seem silly to have such an arrangement if it was out of the realm of possibility that you’d be coming over to the States in the near term.
That still sounds about right to me – and if it was six years for a total $75 million commitment, I’d do it. I suspect, however, that the number will be closer to $100 million when all is said and done.
There’s a bit more on Darvish in that post, including more detail on his track record in Japan (which is impressive).