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Yu Darvish staying put this season

A few weeks ago, I floated the idea that the Nationals could fulfill Mike Rizzos' vow to add an elite starting pitcher by pursuing Japanese star Yu Darvish, whom they have scouted extensively. Today, it became clear that they will have to wait.

Darvish said on his blog he will be returning to the Nippon Ham Fighters next season, according to a translation by the excellent NPB Tracker. It had been reported, and widely believed, that Darvish would be available this offseason via Nippon Professional Baseball's posting system. Instead, it seems, Darvish will play at least one more year in Japan.

Darvish's exclusion from the pitching market gives the Nationals one fewer option to add an elite starter. The lone free agent pitcher who fits that definition is Cliff Lee, whom the Nationals would have to outbid the Yankees and Rangers for and convince to play on a team that has lost 298 games the past three years. The Nationals may be able to target Tampa Bay's Matt Garza or Kansas City's Zack Greinke in a trade.

By Adam Kilgore  | October 19, 2010; 12:40 PM ET
 
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Comments

You have to wonder whether the Nats have painted themselves in a corner this off-season.

Let's suppose Tom Boswell is right, and the Nats have begun a process to increase budgets and produce interesting teams. That would be spectacular if it happens. However, after several seasons now of going only after low-cost, marginal talent to supplement their home grown players, you have to wonder whether they can just turn a switch and attract quality ballplayers? Will talented players want to come here, or is the Nats' frugal reputation too widespread?

The Nats' only exception in their trades exclusively for the low-cost types was Soriano, and he yielded Jordan Z-mann (plus a first rounder who hasn't made it). The Soriano trade was pre-Lerner, of course. The only expensive free agent (assuming $20 million over two years can be considered expensive) was Dunn, and he could yield at least a compensation round pick. But that's been about it since the Nats moved here.

Meanwhile, the Nats have been shedding salary with Dunn, Guz, Capps and soon others off the books. The stage is set for some significant improvements this off-season, assuming players will want to come here.

Posted by: EdDC | October 19, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

mlbtraderumors.com is reporting that Rizzo was given a five-year extension and promoted to executive vice president of baseball operations and GM

Posted by: TimDz | October 19, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

What is a "Ham Fighter?"

Posted by: dontknowdiddley | October 19, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

The team is sponsored by Nippon Ham and they are called the "Fighters." They are known as the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters.

FWIW

Posted by: hisownfool1 | October 19, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Whether players want to come here will be important, and may be the reason we should be happy Darvish won't be coming to the US yet. The team offered a lot of money to Teixeira and Aroldis Chapman, so we know they won't absolutely refuse. I am rooting for a quick end to the World Series so we can begin to find out how things will unfold.

+1/2St.

Posted by: kevincostello | October 20, 2010 10:15 AM | Report abuse

In Japan, baseball teams are owned by corporations.

It would be a good idea for the Nats to not break the bank on Garza or Greinke. Garza can be unpredictable fron start to start 7 Greinke has been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. He may fold when the pressure is on.

Posted by: dodgertown | October 26, 2010 8:31 AM | Report abuse

In Japan, baseball teams are owned by corporations.

It would be a good idea for the Nats to not break the bank on Garza or Greinke. Garza can be unpredictable fron start to start & Greinke has been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. He may fold when the pressure is on.

Posted by: dodgertown | October 26, 2010 8:33 AM | Report abuse

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