In terms of starters, the free agent market is depleted this season. C.J. Wilson and Mark Buehrle will receive a lot of intrigue, but after them the market drops off significantly. This lack of talent has caused massive speculation in the trade market, yet many teams also lack the goods to acquire a true, game-changing starting pitcher.
And so we get to Yu Darvish.
Teams looking to get creative, and perhaps risky, might pursue this latest phenom from the Land of the Rising Sun. The 25-year-old has had four seasons under his belt, and in that time he has gone 58-22 with a 1.81 ERA and 4.38 K/BB.
After their September collapse, the Boston Red Sox are desperate for starting pitching. However, they need to watch themselves when it comes to Darvish.
Does Daisuke Matsuzaka ring any bells?
It was only five years ago that the Red Sox signed the highly-touted phenom from Japan. He was going to be the next big thing. D-Mat was considered an ace in waiting, and we took the bait.
Instead, Matsuzaka completely duped Red Sox Nation. The 49-30 record looks pretty great but take away an incredibly lucky 18-3 2008 season, and the record stands at 31-27. Then, there is the less than stellar 4.25 ERA, the ugly 1.397 WHIP and the horrific 4.4 BB/9.
The moral of the story: Japanese pitchers tend to carry fantastic risk.
Back in 2007, Boston paid roughly $51 million dollars—just for the posting fee! Dice-K eventually signed a six-year, $52 million deal. Even though the posting fee goes to the Japanese team that a player comes from, it is part of the deal. Essentially, Boston agreed to pay Matsuzaka $17 million a year for six years. His 10.6 WAR is certainly not indicative of a player who deserves to be paid such an amount.
Yu Darvish is considered a star, but the MLB has learned from a failed Matsuzaka experiment. I doubt any team will come close to Dice-K's posting fee, and Darvish will probably command only about $35-$45 million. But that is still a lot of money.
Japanese players can be incredibly risky. Their shiny stats look great but once they hit the US, those may become aberrations.
Darvish carries more risk than Boston can take on this season. If Ben Cherington knows what is good for him, he will stick to the local market.