Some of the hottest baseball players who are eligible for free agency after the 2011 MLB season include Prince Fielder, Jose Reyes, and Albert Pujols (go here for a list of all 2012 MLB free agents). However, one of the most sought after baseball players may be someone who is currently in MLB affiliated ball. His name is Yu Darvish and he is from Japan. He and his agents (Arn Tellem of Wasserman Media Group and Don Nomura) could soon be selling him to the highest bidder, as long as Darvish’s current team (the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters of Japan) posts him, which would allow him to be picked up by an MLB team. Darvish would be exempt from the posting system if he had 9 or more years of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) service (which he does not).
The MLB posting system is an instrument that regulates the movement of players from the NPB to the MLB. It effectively provides NPB teams a windfall for losing their best players to the United States. Instead of NPB players having their choice of what MLB team to go to, MLB teams submit bids to merely win the right to negotiate with the NPB players for 30 days. This negotiation in the 30 day window is where agents like Arn Tellem and Don Nomura really assist the player. If a posted NPB player signs a contract with the MLB team in that 30 day window, the player’s former NPB team receives the money from the original bid, which earned the MLB team the limited exclusive right to negotiate with the player and his agents. The Mariners made a bid of $13.125 million for Ichiro Suzuki and the Red Sox made a bid of $51.1 million for Daisuke Matsuzaka.
Darvish has an interesting background. His mother is Japanese while his father is Iranian. His parents met at a small liberal arts school in St. Petersburg, Florida. Kazuhiro Sasaki of the Seattle Mariners and Takashi Saito of the Milwaukee Brewers went to Darvish’s high school. Hideki Okajima of the Boston Red Sox and Yoshinori Tateyama of the Texas Rangers played for Darvish’s current professional team in Japan. And Darvish just happens to be rocking the following numbers this year in the NPB: 1.56 ERA, 10.2 K/9, 1.4 BB/9, and 0.20 HR/9. He also will only be 25-years-old if/when he is posted.