The New York Yankees have scouted 25-year-old Japanese pitching sensation Yu Darvish and are open to bidding for the 6'5'', 220-pound right-hander if he goes through the posting process that's required for his early entry into Major League Baseball.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told ESPNNewYork.com on Thursday that the team scouted Darvish during the 2011 season, in which he went 18-6 with a 1.44 ERA for the Nippon Ham Fighters. He also struck out 276 batters and walked only 35 in 232 innings.
Cashman didn't say, however, whether the Yankees would be interested in bidding on Darvish. There could be some hesitancy considering what went on with Boston Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka. The Red Sox made a bid of $51 million, the highest posting fee ever paid, for the right to negotiate with Matsuzaka, who eventually signed a six-year, $52 million contract. Thus, Boston's total investment in the pitcher came out to $103 million. In return, Matsuzaka has gone 46-27 with a 4.18 ERA in five seasons, and missed most of 2011 after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
The Yankees' total investment on Darvish could very well cost upward of $100 million with the posting fee.
The Yankees, though, have been known and have the ability to take risks. Darvish could be someone they believe is worth the risks. The names Kei Igawa and, as mentioned before, Matsuzaka, immediately come to mind as highly-touted Far East arms that didn't work out in the United States. But, knowing that Darvish is 93-38 with a 2.12 ERA in his seven-year career might coerce the Bombers to pull the trigger.
Money and the transition from Japanese to American baseball will certainly be key concerns in the pursuit of Darvish. Nevertheless, two things should force the Yankees' hand.
Number one-Darvish's resume, including statistics and repertoire of pitches. All the stats that stand out have been outlined above. In terms of his pitches, he has not one, but two go-to, strikeout pitches: a fastball and a hard-breaking slurve. To complement these two, he practically has an arsenal of weapons: a two-seam fastball, a cutter, a curveball, a splitter and a changeup. And, to think he once threw a screwball before shoulder problems emerged.
Number two-the uncertainty of the Yankees' rotation. CC Sabathia may or may not stick around, but one thing is for certain. At this point, he is still the Yankees ace and everything should be built around him. Free agents Mark Buerhle, Edwin Jackson and the Texas Rangers' C.J. Wilson are out on the market, too, but Darvish can come in alongside one of those guys, which will definitely boost the rotation.
Cashman, who on Thursday was set for a second day of organizational meetings with Yankees scouting and player personnel executives, refused to address specific players, citing baseball's anti-tampering rules.
We're addressing every area of need on the team, he said. We're evaluating our own personnel as well as whoever might become available this offseason.
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