Jays going hard after Japanese hurler

The Toronto Blue Jays General Manager Alex Anthopoulos discusses the future  of the Jays in his...

The Toronto Blue Jays General Manager Alex Anthopoulos discusses the future of the Jays in his annual season wrap-up press conference in Toronto, Sept. 29, 2011. (Stan Behal/QMI AGENCY)

BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:14 AM ET

TORONTO - If the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters accept the sealed bid on Yu Darvish...

If the Blue Jays’ number is the highest when the commissioner’s office makes public the winning bid at 5 p.m. Tuesday ...

And if the Jays negotiate a long-term deal with Darvish in the next 30 days, it will be the result of at least four trips to Japan by Jays scouts.

The New York Post and the Dallas Morning News have already reported that the Jays bid, somewhere between $40 and $50 million US, is higher than either of those submitted by the New York Yankees or the Texas Rangers.

The amount the Chicago Cubs bid with Theo Epstein, the man who brought Daisuke Matsuzaka to the Boston Red Sox, in charge as the president is unknown.

As for the Jays who travelled to Japan to scout Darvish:

- Assistant GM Tony LaCava made the 17-hour flight to Tokyo and then a 90-minute flight to Sapporo in time to watch Darvish on Aug. 25 against the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles.

Darvish pitched nine innings allowing four hits and two runs — one earned — and lost. He walked two and struck out 15 in his 114-pitch outing.

Scouts from other teams included the Rangers, Cubs and Yankees, represented by scout Rick Williams, son of the late Hall of Fame manager Dick Williams.

Darvish, who has rock star status in Japan, was on the scouts flight to Tokyo, deciding not to fly with his team.

General manager Alex Anthopoulos was scheduled to be on the trip, but that was the same week manager John Farrell left the Jays dugout at Rogers Centre early, headed for Mt. Sinai with muscular pain on his left side, below the rib cage.

- GM Anthopoulos and assistant GM LaCava saw Darvish pitch Aug. 31 against the Chiba Lotte Marines. Darvish won this outing pitching eight innings and allowing one run on five hits and three walks. He struck out nine in his 118-pitch outing lowering his ERA to 1.54.

They had company with Washington Nationals, Baltimore Orioles, Red Sox, Rangers, Cubs and Yankees scouts

- Former Jays pro scouts Gary Rajsich and Russ Bove were in Fukuoka, a two-hour flight west of Tokyo, to watch from every angle as the right-hander against the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks Sept. 17.

Darvish pitched nine innings allowing one run on six hits, leaving with a no decision. He did not walk a man and struck out 12 in his 127-pitch outing, lowering his ERA to 1.45.

Rajsich, one of the Jays best evaluators, joined former boss Dan Duquette, general manager of the Baltimore Orioles, as his new scouting director at the end of the season.

- Another unknown duo of scouts — assistant to GM, Dana Brown, Anthopoulos’ best evaluator, next to LaCava? — made at least one other trip to Sapporo.

So Jays scouts did their diligence: At least four starts seen by six evaluators that we know about. There may have been more, including Darvish’s one start in the playoffs.

Plus, Jays scouts hit the videos on Darvish from the Japan, the World Baseball Classic and the Olympics.

The 6-foot-5, 220-pounder was 18-6 with a 1.44 ERA. He walked 36 and struck out 276 in 232 innings for the Fighters.

Darvish wasn’t the best arm in the Pacific League. Masahiro Tanaka of the Rakuten Eagles had more wins and a lower ERA than Darvish to win the Sawamura Award as the league’s top pitcher, akin to the Cy Young award.

The Orix Blue Wave posted Ichiro Suzuki’s contract in 2000 with the Seattle Mariners winning the right to negotiate with a sealed bid of $13 million. Pat Gillick signed Ichiro to a three-year, $14-million deal. The Jays bid $3 million.

The Boston Red Sox bid $51,111,111.11, to talk to Matsuzaka of the Seibu Lions, signing him to a six-year, $52-million contract after the 2006 season.

When Anthopoulos took over and hired extra scouts, the new GM continually spoke of additional scouts allowing the Jays “multiple looks” on players.

Well, the Jays had multiple looks.

Now they have to wait to see if they had high bid.


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