The latest on the Yu Darvish rumors

According to CBS Sports’ Danny Knobler last night, the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters are expected to wait until the last minute ahead of Tuesday’s 5 p.m. ET deadline to accept the posting price for Yu Darvish, which is believed to be much higher than they had initially thought.  Knobler also notes that waiting until the deadline to accept isn’t uncommon, as that’s what the Seibu Lions did five years ago after they posted Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Even though the Fighters themselves don’t even know the identity of the highest-bidding club, that hasn’t stopped a variety of media outlets from speculating that the Blue Jays are indeed the victors in the Darvish sweepstakes.

This morning, ESPN has been the first to tie the Jays to Darvish, even giving the organization some credit in the process. Buster Olney notes via Twitter that “if the Jays are, in fact, the winning bidders for Darvish–as many execs believe–they will continue to develop into a very dangerous team. The Jays would have a full season of Lawrie, plus Bautista, plus Santos, plus Romero. And they have nice core of prospects on the way.”

Last night, the New York Post supplied one of the most intriguing reports on the Darvish process, saying that the Jays posted a bid above $40 million, possibly even close to $50 million, and that “heads shook over the rumored size of the Blue Jays’ bid.” What made the report really intriguing, though, was that, “according to several sources with knowledge of the situation, the Blue Jays made the monster bid on orders from owner Rogers Communications.”

That’s a bold (and refreshing) statement on its own, but roughly two hours later, an article from Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun was published with the same information.

“I was told Rogers Communications said: ‘Whatever it costs, sign him,’ ” an unnamed Blue Jays executive told Elliott in the feature. Elliott goes to say that the whole Darvish process is top secret amongst the Blue Jays front office, and that only president Paul Beeston and GM Alex Anthopoulos know the exact figure that the club submitted.

Then, about two hours ago, ESPN’s Jim Bowden tweeted that he had multiple sources confirm last night’s New York Post report that the Jays have won the rights to negotiate with Darvish.

Through various reports, there are apparently more than 10 teams that did not submit a bid for Darvish, with the most-linked clubs being the Jays, Yankees, Cubs, and Rangers. The Yankees are rumored to have submitted a “modest” bid, with the Rangers and Jays submitting “serious” bids. Rumors around the Cubs’ bid have barely been mentioned, though, and with Theo Epstein now leading the charge and looking to make a “statement” signing since taking over the club, I see no reason to count them out right now.

It’s safe to assume that there is only a small group of people around baseball with inside knowledge on the Darvish sweepstakes, and if the Fighters do in fact take until Tuesday to formally accept, it’s going to be a tough weekend as we all ponder about who has won the rights to negotiate with the Japanese phenom.

-JM

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