According to Fox Sports national baseball writer Jon Paul Morosi, the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters are expected to announce they've accepted a bid for free-agent pitcher Yu Darvish by 8-9 p.m. ET Monday night.
That would be well in advance of the Tuesday, 5 p.m. ET deadline but also would tie in well with the news cycle in Japan, where with the 14-hour time difference it would be 10 or 11 a.m. The winning team receives a 30-day window of exclusivity to negotiate a contract with the 26-year-old Darvish, and if a deal cannot be struck Darvish would remain in Japan and re-post next year.
Sealed bids were submitted on Wednesday and while the Toronto Blue Jays have refused comment several executives with other teams say they believe the Blue Jays had the highest bid – at a time when general manager Alex Anthopoulos has been dampening expectations of a payroll bonanza based on statements made by president and chief executive officer Paul Beeston.
The consensus is that it will cost in the neighbourhood of $125-million to bring Darvish to North America – upwards of $50 million for the posting fee (which is returned to the winning Major League club if they cannot sign Darvish) and close to $75 million in salary.
Anthopoulos travelled to Japan to see Darvish pitch in person and the Blue Jays followed him intently down the stretch of the Japanese season.
Pat Courtney, spokesman for Major League Baseball, said in an e-mail message on Monday that the commissioner's office would announce the winning team by press release "as soon as we know." Courtney said the winning amount would not be announced, and that "the window (of exclusivity) would open right away."
The right of exclusivity cannot be traded to another club.