Yu Darvish could be headed for the New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers or Toronto Blue Jays by the end of the week. Bidding for negotiating rights with the right-handed Japanese pitcher closed Wednesday, and though no signing will happen for several days, the identity of the winning organization could leak quickly.
Darvish walks in the footsteps of Daisuke Matsuzaka, among others, as players who have passed through the (much-maligned) posting process whereby MLB teams can cherry-pick top NPB (Nippon Professional Baseball, the Japanese big leagues) talent years earlier than they can access them through true free agency.
There is risk here, be it the lurking danger of injury or the inherent difficulties of a transition to Stateside baseball. Darvish, 25, already has well over 1,200 innings of pro ball under his belt, and the Japanese system of starting pitching rotation has allowed him to shoulder that load better than he might in the United States. He has pitched just once a week, and has never made more than 28 starts in a season. An MLB usage pattern could pose serious injury risk here.
Effectiveness is also a fair question. Darvish seems to have supernal command and more electric, American stuff than any previous Japanese starter. He's not, strictly speaking, a good comp for Daisuke Matsuzaka. But after Matsuzaka's struggles to stay healthy and effective over the past three years, teams may be wary of Darvish, anyway.
All that said, the money spent to acquire him is going to be huge. Someone is going to lay out nine figures in order to land him. Who it is will be revealed in time. As we wait, check back here for rumors, updates and general analyses of how Darvish fits into the plans of many teams around the league.