Yu Darvish is a pitcher for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters and is expected to become a free agent during the 2012 season.
Posting Fee: At first, it looked like there would be a $35 million investment to his Japanese club (posting fee). In the wake of John Lackey and Tommy John Surgery, agents and baseball higher ups that I have spoken with are thinking it could be $55-60 million to negotiate a contact with Darvish.
Salary Command: He will likely command more money than Daisuke Matsuzaka. His agents know his marketing value in Japan and one agent told me that he could expect a 20%-30% premium, if they played hardball.
Hypothetical deal: $6 years; 75 million
Lost Compensation: None
Plus: Shows the ability to throw a solid four seam fastball, two seam fastball, slurve, and change up that should be the staple in his repertoire at the major league level. He has the size and frame that you look for out of a top of the rotation pitcher. Mechanically, he is sound and shows little sign of command or injury risk long term. He shows the staple work ethic, conditioning, and dedication that indicate he will be able to maintain his effectiveness later in his career.
Minus: He comes from a league that pitches completely differently than any American style throwing program. Almost every single pitcher from Japanese leagues has not met the standards they set in the NPB. While he throws a fastball that sits 94-95 mph and touch 97 at times, his five day throwing program might have him sitting 90-92 mph and touching 94 at times. Everyone is saying that he will post numbers that will give him profile him as a 5.0 WAR type pitcher, but that is not a slam dunk and only Hideo Nomo posted back to back plus 4.0 WAR seasons in the majors after playing in Japan. Japanese pitchers have done well in the first two years, but the success has not lasted long in their MLB careers.