Yu Darvish wants to play in majors
TOKYO -- Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish ended months of speculation Thursday by saying he intends to make a move to Major League Baseball.
The 25-year-old right-hander, considered the best pitcher in the Japanese professional leagues, wrote on his blog that he had decided to use the posting system, which allows MLB teams to bid for the negotiating rights to Japanese players who have yet to become free agents.
Darvish is the No. 1 pitcher in Japan, but we want him to become the ace of the world.” -- Nippon Ham team representative Toshimasa Shimada
"I have decided to use the posting system," he said. "I wanted to tell my fans directly, so that is why I am posting this on my blog."
Darvish, the son of an Iranian father and a Japanese mother, went 18-6 with a 1.44 ERA this season for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters. He had 276 strikeouts to lead the Pacific League.
"I owe a lot of thanks to my team," Darvish said, adding he would provide more details at an upcoming news conference.
Darvish pitched in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and was a member of the Japanese national team that won the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
The 6-foot-5 Darvish has superb control and throws seven effective pitches, including a two-seam fastball introduced during the 2010 season. It's expected he would make a top-of-the-rotation major league starter.
"Darvish is the No. 1 pitcher in Japan, but we want him to become the ace of the world," Nippon Ham team representative Toshimasa Shimada said.
Darvish turned pro in 2005 at 18. His pro career got off to a rocky start when he was caught smoking in a pachinko parlor on an off day during his first spring training, despite not being old enough to legally smoke or gamble at the time.
After going 5-5 with a 3.53 ERA in his rookie season with the Fighters, Darvish had a breakout year in 2006, going 12-5 with a 2.89 ERA and 115 strikeouts.
In 2007, Darvish won the Eiji Sawamura Award presented to the top pitcher in Japanese professional baseball after posting a 15-5 record with a 1.82 ERA and a league-leading 210 strikeouts.
Darvish was posted Thursday, meaning MLB clubs can submit sealed bids through next Wednesday for the right to negotiate with Darvish. If the Fighters accept the highest bid, the MLB club that placed that bid will have 30 days to finalize a contract with the player. If no deal is reached, Darvish returns to the Fighters for another season.
In 2006, former Seibu Lions pitcher Matsuzaka drew a $51.1 million posting fee from the Boston Red Sox, who signed him to a six-year, $52 million contract, taking the total package to more than $100 million.
The Texas Rangers certainly will be one team with interest. They've scouted Darvish in the past and generak manager Jon Daniels has seen him pitch in person.
The New York Yankees also are expected to make a bid, but have been coy about their intentions after their bad experiences with Kei Igawa, who failed to make an impact in the majors.
Before leaving the winter meetings, Boston Red Sox GM Ben Cherington indicated that the Red Sox are unlikely to participate in the posting process for Darvish.
"I'm not sure the timing of this offseason puts us in a position to be the most aggressive team," Cherington said. "But he's a good pitcher. We have a lot of respect for him. We certainly will discuss it. We've got to figure out if a post makes sense.
"We've got a lot of commitment to the starting rotation, as you guys know. We feel pretty good about the front end of our rotation. Certainly if a team is going to be posting and trying to sign him, it's going to be part of the front end of the rotation. We feel pretty good about that part of our team."
In 2006, former Seibu Lions pitcher Matsuzaka drew a $51.1 million posting fee from the Red Sox, who signed him to a six-year, $52 million contract, taking the total package to more than $100 million.
The Yankees won the negotiating rights to shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima of the Lions on Wednesday. The posting fee for the 29-year-old was $2.5 million.
Information from ESPNDallas.com's Richard Durrett, ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand, ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes and The Associated Press was used in this report.