Speed bump in star's possible MLB trip?

The long-awaited availability of Japanese right-hander Yu Darvish to MLB clubs still is not assured.

The timing of Japanese right-hander Yu Darvish’s availability to major league clubs remains in question.

Two sources with knowledge of the situation told FOXSports.com on Saturday that Darvish is likely to be posted after the winter meetings, which run from Monday to Thursday in Dallas.

But Darvish’s father, Farsad, told the Japanese news service Sponichi that the pitcher’s decision might not come until mid- to late-January, a time frame that could limit his appeal only to the wealthiest major league clubs.

Most teams address their needs in December and lose most of their payroll flexibility by January. Darvish likely would amount to at least a $100 million exception between his posting fee and his contract.

“His timetable does not say anything about making a decision in December,” Farsad Darvish told Sponichi.

“He is talking to (his) team (the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters) and most likely will make a decision in mid- to late-January.”

Farsad Darvish also said that Yu currently is 50-50 with his decision, and that he is extremely worried about what might happen if his negotiations with the winning major league bidder do not go well and he is forced to return to the Fighters.

If Darvish is posted, major league teams would have four days to submit sealed bids to the Fighters. If Hokkaido were to accept the high bid, the winning major league club would gain exclusive negotiating rights to Darvish for 30 days. Darvish would return to the Fighters if he were unable to agree on a contract.

Darvish is a pivotal figure this offseason; his availability would be a major attraction for clubs frustrated by the lack of elite starting pitchers in this year’s free-agent market.

At least two major league general managers — the Toronto Blue Jays' Alex Anthopoulos and Texas Rangers' Jon Daniels — saw Darvish pitch in Japan last season.

The New York Yankees likely would bid. And the Boston Red Sox, despite their poor experience with Japanese right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka, could be a factor.

 

The Sox's new manager, Bobby Valentine, "loves" Darvish, one source said — and Valentine likely knows the pitcher as well as anyone working for a major league club, having managed against him in Japan.

Darvish’s posting fee could exceed the Red Sox’s winning $51 million bid for Matsuzaka, and Darvish's contract also could be worth more than Matsuzaka’s six-year, $52 million deal.

Darvish projects as a potential top-of-the-rotation starter. He went 18-6 with a career-best 1.44 ERA last season, striking out 276 and walking only 36 in 232 innings.

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