This is a pretty marginal year for starting pitching on the free agent market, but there is one name out there that the Nationals may show interest in if indeed he does become available. That player is Yu Darvish, the 26-year-old that has been the best pitcher in Japan for the last few years. There have been rumors that he would be coming to MLB for the last few years, but now his interest in coming to America seems legitimate. According to a number of sources including Bill Ladson of MLB.com, the Nationals have scouted Darvish extensively and could show serious interest in Darvish when and if he becomes available.
General manager Mike Rizzo has acknowledged that the Nationals scouted right-hander Yu Darvish several times this year . . ."We are open to acquire talent any way, shape or form that we can," Rizzo said. "If it's international talent, we are certainly willing to acquire international players."
Darvish might be the most talented player on the open market this year and he would slot nicely into the Nationals rotation with Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann. There is some disagreement about whether Darvish could be a No. 1 starter in the major leagues, but on the Nationals, that wouldn't even be an issue. But as Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post explains, signing Darvish away from the Japanese league is not as easy as signing a MLB free agent.
The price to acquire would be steep. Darvish would be made available to major league organizations by his team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, via the “posting” system. Teams would submit bids, and the highest bidder would earn the right to negotiate exclusively with Darvish. Between the bid and the contract, the team that acquires Darvish will pay at least $100 million by most estimates.
Those estimates vary widely across the MLB media, but I wouldn't be surprised if the total cost to bring Darvish on board is less than that. I imagine some teams might skeptical about Darvish after the Daisuke Matzsuzaka experiment in Boston, and that might make Darvish less valuable.
But Darvish will still be a hot commodity, and for the second year in a row, the Nationals could swoop in and shock the rest of the Baseball world with a big time free agent acquisition.