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Yu Darvish And The Mariners

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All offseason long, I haven't figured the Mariners have much of a chance of getting Yu Darvish. Hell, it wasn't even apparent when Darvish would be posted, or even if he would be posted at all, until last week. But then Darvish was posted, and now teams have until tomorrow afternoon to submit their blinds bids, and I realized I haven't really written anything about Darvish at all, mostly because I didn't think he was a realistic option. I decided I should write something, so I am writing this. You guys must love when I take you behind the scenes.

You have to know about Darvish, right? There can't be a single one of you who doesn't know at least a little bit about Yu Darvish. He's 25. Over the last five years, he's posted a 1.72 ERA. The worst strikeout-to-walk ratio he's posted over that span is 3.7, and the best is 7.7, which he just did last season. He has a complete repertoire, and he's just good, just really really good. And he's been posted, like other Japanese superstars and non-superstars.

Interestingly, rumor has it that Darvish would prefer to play on the West coast. You know, closer to Japan. That's exciting, right? It's not like the Padres would get involved. It's not like the A's would get involved. The Giants spent all their money, the Angels spent (hopefully) all their money, the Dodgers are running out of money...Seattle makes sense, doesn't it?

Of course, Darvish isn't a free agent. He's being posted, which means his preference doesn't matter. Even if Darvish really does prefer to play on the West coast, and even if he finds Seattle appealing, his negotiating rights will be given to the high bidder, no matter who that is, or where the team plays. So it's an interesting rumor, and, ultimately, an irrelevant rumor.

So, should the Mariners submit a bid? The answer is yes. It's an obvious yes. Of course the Mariners should submit a bid - there's no downside to submitting a bid. The better question is, should the Mariners submit a huge bid? A potentially winning bid? And here's where we get into that weird situation with the Mariners and Japanese posting fees. If the posting fee would come out of some separate fund, then, as a fan, I'm all about it. I'm all about the Mariners trying to win Darvish's rights. What do I care about that separate fund?

I don't know what the Mariners' plan is, mind you. Everything has to be kept very hush-hush, because, remember, this is a blind process, and if you're interested in a posted player, you don't want to give another team a signal of that. It would make sense if the Mariners badly want Darvish, since he could be the team's next Japanese superstar in the event that Ichiro's almost finished. It would also make sense if the Mariners do not badly want Darvish, since Darvish is a question mark, and an expensive domestic player like Prince Fielder might be more of a sure thing. Daisuke Matsuzaka, and all.

It's hard for me to see how the team could afford both Darvish and Fielder, given the current assumed budget, or even anything close to the current assumed budget. Darvish is going to get paid. Fielder is going to get paid. You know how hard it is to come up with ways to squeeze Fielder into the available space? Darvish wouldn't help. To get both would require a substantial payroll hike.

Is it either/or? Should it be either/or? Conveniently, while the Fielder sweepstakes seem to have a ways to go, we'll know what's going on with Darvish soon. His team will have four business days to decide whether or not to accept the high bid. Then someone will hold his rights, be it the Rangers, the Blue Jays, the Mariners, or someone else. I'm sure Scott Boras is very interested to see who wins this thing.

When it comes to deciding which of Darvish and Fielder would be a better fit with the Mariners, an answer can't be given without having some understanding of their contracts. It isn't nearly as simple as saying that the Mariners need more offense, not more pitching. For one thing, no matter what the last few seasons have suggested, it really is about adding overall value, not runs scored. For another thing, the Mariners' pitching staff is hardly spectacular. It's Felix, Pineda, and stuff, and while there are prospects on the way, they're still prospects. If Darvish is a great pitcher, he could be a great help.

Ultimately, Darvish is more difficult to project than Fielder is. The Mariners could have a better idea of what to expect from Fielder than from Darvish. So that makes Fielder a little more "safe". But if the Mariners sense that Fielder might cost them way too much, Darvish might be a reasonable alternative. He's a young talent who could be under team control for a while. Just as good a fit for a team like the Mariners.

This is all so speculative. I apologize for wasting your time, if you feel like I wasted your time. I've seen the Mariners advanced as a Darvish dark horse, and it makes sense, but we just don't know, and can't know. Fortunately, we'll find out soon. Everything will make a lot more sense soon. Maybe the Mariners get Darvish, maybe they get Fielder, maybe they get neither or maybe they get both, but these guys have to land somewhere. Hang on for just a little bit more.