If you follow sports at all, there’s a good chance you’ve heard misleading or downright incorrect reports about Yu Darvish and his posting. If you live in Toronto and have eyes or ears, you’ve definitely heard these frustratingly wrong reports.
To be fair, the posting system which allows Japanese players who are still controlled by their Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) team is a murky, complicated and secretive process. It is easy to get confused about these things if you don’t know how the process works. It’s especially easy to get confused when rumour mongers can’t help themselves from tweeting and reporting every utterance they hear (whether it’s actually heard or just in their head).
Now, as the deadline for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters (Darvish’s Japanese team) to either accept or reject the highest bid to come from MLB teams, let’s take a look at what we actually know about the situation:
Is Darvish coming to Toronto?
As of right now, anybody speaking in certainties about which team Darvish is going to play for next year is talking out of their ass. The fact of the matter is that, until a bid is accepted, NOBODY knows. Not even Darvish himself (OK, maybe he’s been told, but he doesn’t officially know). I know that sounds a little crazy, but it’s a function of the posting process. Read on and it will, I hope, become clear.
How does posting work?
Once a player is posted by his NPB team, there are three steps to the process:
- MLB teams have a 4-day window to submit sealed bids to MLB Commissioner Bud Selig. When that 4-day window closes, Selig goes over the bids and notifies his Japanese counterpart of the high bid. At this point the only people who know what the high bid is and which team it came from are the two commissioners and whatever trusted henchman they may have had in the room with them.
- NPB Commissioner Ryozo Kato notifies the posted player’s team of the high bid. The Japanese team has a 4-day window to decide whether to accept the bid.
- If the NPB team accepts the bid, the MLB team which offered the bid has a 30-day window to negotiate a contract with the posted player. If a contract is reached, the NPB team keeps the posting fee*. If the team and player are not able to reach an agreement, the posting fee is refunded to the MLB team that failed to sign the player.
* It’s important to note that the posting fee is completely separate from the player contract. A posting fee of, say, $50 million is completely separate from a $50-million contract awarded to the player. Those two examples would result in the MLB team spending $100 million on the player.
So where are we right now?
The process for Darvish is nearing the end of the second step. Any rumours you’ve heard to date about where Darvish is going and for how much, well, those are just rumours.
Would it be cool if the Blue Jays land Darvish? Hell yes. But, if even the Jays win the bidding process, there’s no guarantee the Japanese star will land in Canada.