Source: Darvish to be posted Thursday

A day long anticipated by major league teams finally has arrived.

Japanese right-hander Yu Darvish will be posted on Thursday, taking the first step toward pitching in the majors next season, according to a source familiar with his plans.

Early Thursday, Darvish confirmed on his blog that he will use the system. ”I have decided to use the posting system,” he wrote. ”I wanted to tell my fans directly, so that is why I am posting this on my blog.”

The sudden availability of Darvish, a potential top-of-the-rotation starter, will be a major attraction for clubs frustrated by the lack of elite starters in this year’s free-agent market and the high asking prices on quality pitchers in trades.

The Yankees, Blue Jays and Rangers are among the teams expected to bid for the negotiating rights to Darvish, sources say. Both Rangers general manager Jon Daniels and Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos saw Darvish pitch in Japan last season.

After Darvish is officially posted, teams will have four days to submit sealed bids to his Japanese team, the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters.

If Hokkaido accepts the high bid, as expected, the winning major league club will gain exclusive negotiating rights to Darvish for 30 days.

Darvish, 25, will return to the Fighters only if he is unable to agree on a contract with the high bidder. His friend, right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, failed to reach agreement with his high bidder, the Oakland Athletics, a year ago.

”I owe a lot of thanks to my team,” Darvish wrote on his blog, adding he would provide more details at a yet-to-be-scheduled news conference.

The Red Sox could be a wild card in the Darvish sweepstakes. Their 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 Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Darvish’s contract also could be worth more than Matsuzaka’s six-year, $52 million deal.

Darvish went 18-6 with a career-best 1.44 ERA last season, striking out 276 and walking only 36 in 232 innings.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.