If you haven't read Jim Caple's feature on Japanese pitching sensation Yu Darvish, you should. And, if you're like me, it might cause you to dream of something that probably will never happen -- Darvish finding his way to Kansas City -- but since his former manager, Trey Hillman, currently manages the Royals, it's fun to think about.
Darvish is a 21-year old megastar in his fourth season as a member of the Hoikkado Nippon Ham Fighters, the team Hillman led to the 2006 and 2007 Japan Series, winning the title in 2006. This season, the 6-foot-5 Darvish is 5-1 with a 1.46 ERA, and he is far and away the top pitcher in Japanese baseball.
Normally, a player such as Darvish would have to play nine seasons in Japan before he would be eligible to sign as a free agent with a team in Major League Baseball. But corporations that own teams in Japan -- in this case, Nippon Ham -- can ask for a posting fee, which would allow an MLB team to have discussions with a player like Darvish before his nine years is up.
It's how Daisuke Matsuzaka wound up a member of the Boston Red Sox. Boston paid a posting fee of $50 million, and then signed Dice-K to a $52 million contract prior to the start of the 2007 season. It's still speculation, but Caple guesses that the fee to speak with Darvish could reach $75 million.
So, here's where my dreaming gets crazy. I actually sat back and wondered whether David Glass, who has deep, deep pockets, would actually ever try to make a huge splash by paying what it takes to get a pitcher like Darvish. I wondered whether the owners of Nippon Ham, who had a wonderful relationship with Trey Hillman, would allow the Royals to be the team with the shot to get Darvish. And I also daydreamed about the possibility of the free-spirited Darvish refusing to talk with any team but one managed by Hillman.
Yes, I know, I'm a crazy Royals fan, and those thoughts are absurd. But it's fun to think about. Read the article, and you'll be dreaming about Darvish wearing Powder Blue, too.