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[12/25/2013] Munenori Kawasaki signs minor league deal with Toronto Blue Jays

by on Dec.25, 2013 @ 11:12 pm, under MLB
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Munenori Kawasaki agreed to a minor league deal with the Toronto Blue Jays.  From MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm:

The Blue Jays gave their fanbase an early holiday present on Tuesday morning with the announcement that infielder Munenori Kawasaki has re-signed with the club on a Minor League contract.

Kawasaki reportedly had been weighing at least one offer to play in Japan, but will instead take his chances in camp with the Blue Jays. As part of the deal, Kawasaki received an invitation to Spring Training and will have a chance to compete for a job off the bench.

Source: MLB.com 12/24/2013

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Joel Sherman lists top 5 teams interested in Yu Darvish

by on Oct.22, 2011 @ 3:07 pm, under MLB, NPB
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Via Sponichi: Joel Sherman tweets that the top 5 teams listed in Yu Darvish are the Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays, Washington Nationals, Seattle Mariners, and Kansas City Royals.  He also tweets that while New York Yankee scouts are interested in Darvish, Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman likely won't authorize the money needed to get him after what happened with Kei Igawa.

The Sponichi report also mentions a possible posting fee in the area of US$50M plus a 5-year-deal with US$75M to land Darvish.

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Baltimore Orioles’ John Stockstill to check out Darvish’s last start

by on Oct.16, 2011 @ 10:05 am, under MLB, NPB
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Sponichi notes a Baltimore Sun article that says Baltimore Orioles' development director John Stockstill is in Japan to check on a number of players, including Yu Darvish.  Sponichi also mentions that a number of other clubs, like the Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees, and Boston Red Sox are expected to catch Darvish's last start of the regular season (currently set for the 18th against the Seibu Lions).

Sponichi goes on to provide the following list of 5 clubs interested in Darvish along with possible reasons why:

  • New York Yankees - could lose C.C. Sabathia; looking for a number of starting arms
  • Boston Red Sox - Daisuke Matsuzaka coming back from TJ surgery; John Lackey's elbow problems; urgent need to find arms for the starting rotation
  • Toronto Blue Jays - increase in payroll
  • Baltimore Orioles - Jeremy Guthrie's bad year; looking for quality arm
  • Texas Rangers - GM checked out Darvish in June; could lose CJ Wilson to FA
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MLB.com: Darvish will be the only big name free agent Blue Jays go after

by on Oct.13, 2011 @ 11:36 am, under MLB, NPB
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[Via Nikkan Sports] MLB.com's Toronto Blue Jays beat reporter Gregor Chisholm answers questions from fans.  One of them is about Yu Darvish:

Darvish is the only big name free agent I could see the Blue Jays taking a run at this offseason. The 25-year-old appears ready to make the jump overseas after beginning his career pitching for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters.

Manager John Farrell has experience working with Japanese pitchers after his four seasons as a pitching coach in Boston, which included time with Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima. That would provide insight on how to ease Darvish's transition to North America and Farrell even took Japanese-language courses while in Boston.

Farrell's previous experience is a nice luxury to have but this move will come down to money. Teams will be required to post secret bids to Darvish's team in Japan and the highest figure will net exclusive negotiating rights. Matsuzaka's total cost to Boston -- posting fee and big league contract -- exceeded $100 million and it's likely that Japan's latest prospect would net something similar in return.

It's a risky proposition for any team because it's impossible to really know how Darvish will deal with the transition to the Majors. The one thing we know is that Darvish's arm has a lot less mileage than Matsuzaka's had when he came over in 2007, which should bode well for his long-term health. Darvish also throws his fastball more frequently and commands it a lot better than Matsuzaka ever did.

UPDATE @ 3:01pm - [Via Sports Hochi] The New York Post's George A. King III includes the following snip about Darvish in a recent article on rotation issues for the New York Yankees:

Expect the Yankees to have a serious interest in Rangers ace C.J. Wilson, who will be a free agent, and to monitor the cost of importing Yu Darvish from Japan.

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Sponichi: Toronto Blue Jays could be serious players for Yu Darvish

by on Oct.08, 2011 @ 10:08 am, under MLB, NPB
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Quoting a Toronto Star article by Richard Griffin, Sponichi feels the Toronto Blue Jays could be a major player for Yu Darvish.  A snip from the Toronto Star article:

There's one special free agent out there this year in 25-year-old Japanese pitching star Yu Darvish. Late in the summer, it was reported that Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos and his right-hand man, Tony LaCava, were in attendance at one of the right-hander's key starts for the Nippon Ham. If Rogers ownership was not aware of Darvish before that, it certainly is now, and there's a real possibility of the Jays being in the thick of whatever happens with Darvish.

"I can answer it this way," Beeston said, choosing his words carefully. "I think those people at Rogers who never heard of him before, now know this player is in existence."

Sponichi also points to John Farrell's knowledge of handing Japanese pitchers (from his days of working with Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima) as a plus (as in everyone from the manager to the front office to the owner have some insight into Darvish).

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