Anthopoulos scouts Darvish in Japan

Anthopoulos scouts Darvish in Japan

Anthopoulos scouts Darvish in Japan
NEW YORK -- General manager Alex Anthopoulos re-joined the Blue Jays on Friday afternoon following a three-day scouting trip to Japan.

Anthopoulos specifically made the journey overseas to watch highly touted Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish. The 25-year-old is considered one of the top pitchers not in Major League Baseball and is contemplating signing with a big league team during the offseason.

"I'm doing my homework," Anthopoulos was asked about his team's level of interest in Darvish. "If I go see guys for the Draft ... it doesn't mean that we draft those players, or we have them high on our list. But I go see them, I want to have as much information as we can on all players.

"But there's no question, he's the reason that I went. I can sit here and [joke], say I went there to experience the culture, or build relationships. But if he hadn't pitched I wouldn't have gone, at least not in 2011."

Darvish is a 6-foot-5 right-hander who pitches for the Nippon Ham Fighters of Nippon Professional Baseball's Pacific League.

The Japan native possesses an impressive fastball-slider combination and also mixes in a curveball and splitter. The Blue Jays frequently have been mentioned as potential suitors, but Darvish will come with a lofty price tag.

Teams will be required to submit a posting fee to his Japanese club before being able to initiate contract negotiations. Interested teams will submit a bid to Major League Baseball, and the team with the highest amount will be awarded exclusive negotiating rights.

The winning bid doesn't necessarily guarantee a deal would then be completed with the player. Last season, Oakland reportedly bid $19 million for the rights to Hisashi Iwakuma but then was unable to come to terms on a deal.

Darvish has drawn some comparisons to fellow Japanese right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka. The Red Sox reportedly paid $51 million for Matsuzaka's negotiating rights and then an additional $52 million for a six-year contract.

It might sound like a complicated process, but for Anthopoulos, it still comes down to overall cost.

"You just have to come up with a value, like we do with everything," Anthopoulos said of the posting process. "You take the emotion out of it, you come up with what you're willing to spend on a player.

"That's how you come up with your math. How much would you pay in salary? How much would you pay in a post? You combine that, but that's the commitment the club is going to make."

The Rangers and Yankees are among five other teams that reportedly are interested in Darvish. Anthopoulos has seen the reports and heard a lot of the rumors, but he's not putting much stock into the speculation.

With this type of contract situation, it's more about the initial posting fee than it is about outside factors.

"I've read things that say, well, people are frontrunners and people have relationships," Anthopoulos said. "With all due respect, I don't think any of that matters. I think it's who types in the highest amount in the email when they send it to the league.

"It's not the team that had the best relationship or scouted the player the most. It's the one that was willing to bid the most, that's all it comes down to."