After the bidding period closed on Japanese starting pitcher Yu Darvish last Wednesday, the initial thought was that the Chicago Cubs were among the top bidders for Darvish. The New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, and Texas Rangers are the other known teams to have placed a bid on Darvish. After a weekend that saw the Cubs’ interest in free agent first baseman Prince Fielder increase and seemingly decrease at the same time, the Cubs have taken a back seat to the in the Darvish sweepstakes to the Blue Jays and Rangers. The common belief is that among all four teams, the Yankees submitted the lowest bid for Darvish.
The thought is that the Blue Jays and Rangers have submitted the highest bids for Darvish, and most national reporters admit they would be surprised if neither the Rangers nor the Blue Jays win the bidding. A report over the weekend suggested the highest bid for Darvish was higher than the record $51 million bid that the Theo Epstein led Red Sox submitted for Daisuke Matsuzaka in the winter of 2006. The extent of the Cubs’ bid is not known, but the belief among national reporters is that the Cubs’ bid was not nearly as high as the bids submitted by the Rangers and Blue Jays. This appears to be another case where national reporters have “inside knowledge” on the Cubs’ operations rather than any of the local reporters.
One thing to keep in mind about the how posting process works is that the bids submitted by major league baseball teams for Japanese players are kept extremely confidential. In fact, neither Darvish nor his representatives know the team that submitted the highest bid for his services. Darvish will find out what team holds his rights at the same time we all do. That time will reportedly be tonight. Don Nomura, the agent for Darvish, tweeted that the announcement on the winning team in the Darvish sweepstakes will come tomorrow morning in Japan. To clarify, Jon Morosi of Fox Sports tweeted that the announcement will come around 9PM eastern time tonight.
At this point, I would be surprised if the Cubs are winners of the Darvish sweepstakes. My early optimism on the Cubs’ chances of landing Darvish has subsided thanks in large part to various reports that surfaced over the weekend suggesting the Cubs’ bid was modest and one that the team did not expect win with. Having said that, one thing the MLB off-season has taught us is to expect the unexpected. Last winter the Philadelphia Phillies signed starting pitcher Cliff Lee when no other reporter mentioned them as a potential suitor. Going back to Matsuzaka, the Texas Rangers were widely considered to be the winners of the bidding process until it was announced that the Red Sox won the bidding. So even though the Rangers and Blue Jays are the labeled leaders, the truth is no one knows.
One thing I expect the Darvish announcement to do is to create a domino affect. Once the Cubs discover that they have either won or lost the Darvish sweepstakes, that should clear the way for the Cubs to pursue other moves. As the holidays near, I would expect the team to soon finalize a contract with relief pitcher Kerry Wood; continue their pursuit of free agent starting pitcher Paul Maholm; and continue discussions with the San Diego Padres, and Texas Rangers about a three team trade that would send Garza to Texas, and top first base prospect Anthony Rizzo to the Cubs.