Who is Yu Darvish? The U.S. is about to find out ... well, maybe
Yu Darvish certainly isn't a household name in the U.S. — at least not yet. But it's a name that is sure to be heard a lot within Major League Baseball organizations Wednesday during the final hours of a bidding war for the chance to land the services of the Japanese pitching sensation.
Dodgers bench coach Trey Hillman, who managed Darvish with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters of Japan's Pacific League from 2005 to 2007, says the 24-year-old right-hander is worth all the fuss.
"He's a No. 1" pitcher, Hillman said. "The only reason he wouldn't be called a No. 1 on a lot of (major league) teams is they wouldn't want to hurt their current No. 1s' feelings."
In 232 innings this season, Darvish had an ERA of 1.44 with 276 strikeouts and 18 wins -- all career numbers. He has finished with an ERA of 1.88 or lower in each of the last five seasons and has an overall record of 93-38 in seven seasons with the Fighters.
Teams have until 2 p.m. PST Wednesday to submit sealed bids for the right to negotiate with Darvish. If the Fighters accept the highest bid -- expected to be $30 million or more -- the team that made it will have 30 days to get a deal done with Darvish, who is said to be seeking a multiple-year deal that pays him roughly $12 million annually.
The Toronto Blue Jays are expected to make an aggressive bid, and the Texas Rangers, Washington Nationals, Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees are viewed as possible contenders as well.
I know what you’re thinking –- wouldn’t it be great if the Dodgers could somehow pull this off? After all, there is that connection with Hillman, who has likened Darvish’s popularity in Japan to that of “Fonzie and Elvis.” (Come on –- a guy like that needs to be in L.A.)
But don’t hold your breath. Not only do the Dodgers already appear to have their rotation set, the bidding for Darvish may just be too rich for the team.
-- Chuck Schilken
Photo: Yu Darvish. Credit: STR / AFP / Getty Images