It’s been long assumed and reported that Yu Darvish will be posted by Nippon Ham, his NPB team. Jon Paul Morosi is talking to someone who has a doubt or two, however:
Even then, there are questions about whether Darvish will come to the majors for the 2012 season. One source with close knowledge of the process said the Fighters will “more likely than not” post Darvish — but cautioned that it’s “not definite.” For teams who view Darvish as an alternative to domestic free agents Wilson and Buehrle, the doubt could be enough for their pitching plans to remain in neutral for several weeks.
File it under “who knows?” Worth noting that last year’s big (well, not big, but still) NPB posting was of Tsuyoshi Nishioka. He wasn’t posted until mid-to-late November and the Twins didn’t land right to negotiate with him until November 25. This stuff takes some time. Morosi himself notes that there’s a delay right now because the NPB season was pushed late due to the earthquake.
Darvish’s team almost certainly understands the notion of selling high. It’s hard to see how his stock gets any higher than it is now. And the U.S. teams will wait for him.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.
Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.
As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.