DALLAS -- The Yankees have had an interest in Yu Darvish for some time, having scouted the Japanese star for the better part of four years.
With the righthander having been posted Thursday, just how interested they are soon will become clear.
The early indication is that the Yankees are wary of spending extravagantly on the 25-year-old, whose seven-pitch arsenal helped him go 18-6 with a 1.44 ERA for the Nippon Ham Fighters in 2011.
"It's tough to write a check for 30, 40 million dollars unless you're sure" on a player, a Yankees official said Thursday.
No one knows for certain what it will cost to land Darvish; speculation in the industry sees the price tag being as high as $100 million -- perhaps $50 million to win the post and that much to sign him.
Major league clubs can submit sealed blind bids to MLB by 5 p.m. (ET) Wednesday for the right to negotiate with Darvish. After the bidding period, MLB will notify the Japanese Commissioner's Office of the amount of the highest bid but not the identity of the club with the highest bid. The Japanese Commissioner's Office then will have four business days to notify MLB if the bid has been accepted or rejected by the Ham Fighters. If it is accepted, the winning club has 30 days to reach a contract agreement.
"He has front-line, No. 1, No. 2 starter's stuff," said a talent evaluator who has scouted the 6-5 Darvish the last several years. "Throws 98 [mph], has a great body, a good delivery. Good slider, split, curveball and changeup. He's basically dominated. That's good. Here's the part that's not so good: He pitches once a week, a full six days off between starts. That doesn't work over here."
Said the Yankees official, "Everybody loves the guy. But pitching in Japan is not pitching here . . . We're taking a look at it , but we're cautious."
General manager Brian Cashman did not tip his hand on his thoughts about Darvish as the winter meetings wrapped up yesterday. "He's an extremely talented player," he said. "I don't think that's in dispute. He's extremely talented, but in terms of how it transitions and everything else like that, I wouldn't even want to speculate. But he's obviously got a great deal of ability."
As for the meetings, Cashman had plenty of discussions but ultimately made no splashes beyond the minor ripple created by winning the post on Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima, whom the Yankees see as a backup infielder. Cashman continues to explore the free agent and trade markets for pitching depth, but until the prices come down, he's not in a hurry to act.
"I expected to come down here and make a lot of calls and have some meetings, but I wasn't overly optimistic," said Cashman, who added that he didn't have any further calls or meetings planned for the day before flying home. "I'm OK with our decision-making. I didn't expect much. It's hard to improve on what we already have."