Call me completely oblivious but I had no idea who Yu Darvish was until this year. He may very well be one of the best pitchers available this offseason, and yet the name Yu Darvish never really struck a chord with me.
That was until recently. With the offseason officially here and the fires of the hotstove starting to get stoked, Darvish is the one name out of all the free agents that could very well be the most intriguing case.
MLB Trade Rumours went through their Top 50 Free Agents post, as well as their predictions for where they think those free agents will sign. Not surprisingly, MLBTR has the Blue Jays as the frontrunners to get Darvish.
Despite Alex Anthopoulos’ tendency to be tight-lipped on possible signings, we know for a fact that he scouted Yu Darvish in Japan at the end of August. For those debating that may have just been a move to drive up the price of Darvish, you don’t travel half way across the world on an 18-hour flight unless you’re serious about signing somebody.
Surely when asked about the situation, I’m sure Alex would respond with a typical Anthopoulosism: “I’m just doing my due diligence”. There’s a big difference though between due diligence and flat out gunning for a player. I think the Blue Jays are doing the latter.
It’s unfortunate the Blue Jays still don’t have Rob Ducey as their Pacific Rim/Asian scout, because this is where that personnel would really come in handy. One of AA’s first duties as the Blue Jays GM was actually letting Ducey go, a move I’m sure he might slightly regret now with the prominence of Yu Darvish over in Japan.
Nevertheless, I’m certain the Blue Jays are being extremely thorough in scouting and researching Yu Darvish. I trust the front office will leave no stone left unturned, and if it gets to the point where Toronto puts in an offer, then it will be a very well thought out offer.
There’s no questioning that Yu Darvish would be a high risk/high reward signing for the Blue Jays. Simply due to the dollar figure attached, anything less than a stellar stay in Toronto might be viewed as a disappointment.
However, if Darvish carves up the AL East competition as he did the Pacific League in Nippon Professional Baseball, a $100 million dollar contract might begin to start looking like a bargain.
But do the Blue Jays really need to spend close to $100 million or more for another Brandon Morrow? If Toronto really needed another mid to back-end starter, they could just as easily move Jesse Litsch back into the starting rotation.
Litsch might not light up the competition as Darvish would, but at least Jesse would be dependable starter they could rely on to hopefully rack up 125 innings or so as a mid-rotation guy. And he would do so at a fraction of the price.
When folks say they’re wary of the Blue Jays signing Yu Darvish, I can completely understand why they’re hesitant. Handing over $100 million dollars to somebody who doesn’t have a lick of Major League experience is a risky move. But so is signing Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder to a $200 million dollar contract.
One could argue that signing Yu Darvish would actually be less risky than going after one of the top free agents like Pujols or Fielder because Darvish would command far less money, on a much shorter term.
As with any deal, there is a possibility it could end up being a complete bust. However, we’ve learned first hand from the Vernon Wells trade that there is no such thing as an immovable contract. Anyone can be made available for the right price.
Nearly every team is looking to upgrade starting pitching. If Darvish falters, the Blue Jays could certainly find a way to parlay Yu Darvish into at least something.
It might be the lack of baseball to the brain, but as the offseason continues, I’m falling more and more in favour of the Blue Jays going after Yu Darvish rather than Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols, or even C.J. Wilson.
With a very promising young pitching staff coming to fruition, the Blue Jays don’t necessarily need to sign Yu Darvish to complete the puzzle. But in the American League East, it’s not enough to have everything fall into place … you need to be the first one to complete that puzzle.
The parts are all there for the Blue Jays to build a contender, it’s just a matter of assembling it. And Yu Darvish may be that one piece that helps Toronto get there just a little bit faster.