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Yankees remain in hunt for Yu Darvish

Japan starter Yu Darvish pitches against South Korea

Japan starter Yu Darvish pitches against South Korea in the first inning of their World Baseball Classic game. (March 17, 2009) Credit: AP

The bidding closed for Yu Darvish Wednesday, and the Yankees are in the mix, having officially submitted a bid by the 5 p.m. Eastern Time deadline. Nevertheless, the Yankees remain pessimistic that the 25-year-old righthander will wind up in the Bronx.

Major League Baseball announced that "at least one bid" was placed by a major-league club. In addition to the Yankees, the Rangers and Blue Jays are regarded as likely suitors. The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, Darvish's team, has four business days -- until Tuesday at 5 p.m. Eastern Time -- to decide whether to accept the bid, but an announcement is expected before Tuesday.

As per the process of the posting system, the Fighters don't know which team bid the most for their star pitcher. It seems unlikely, however, that the Yankees will prove to be that club, as they determined to bid a relatively low amount and see if Darvish somehow fell to them.

That the Yankees bid at all reflects their respect for Darvish's talents. The team's scouts thought very highly of Darvish. Yet managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, who is trying to pare payroll during the next few years, isn't enthusiastic about diving into the high-risk pool of Japanese free agency after the Kei Igawa failure of five years ago.

The Blue Jays, owned by the wealthy Rogers Communications company, have the financial might to make a high bid and believe that Darvish can succeed in the major leagues. Texas just lost C.J. Wilson to the rival Angels via free agency and also has scouted Darvish extensively.

The Washington Nationals, who aren't reluctant to spend, and Seattle Mariners, who have the most successful Japanese player in Ichiro Suzuki, are other candidates to win the right to negotiate with Darvish. The prevailing club will have 30 days to work out a deal with Darvish, and if the two sides can't come to agreement, Darvish will return to the Fighters for the 2012 season.

The 6-5 Darvish was 18-6 with a 1.44 ERA and a league-leading 276 strikeouts last season.


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