Anthopoulos doesn't tip hand on Darvish

Anthopoulos doesn't tip hand on Darvish

Anthopoulos doesn't tip hand on Darvish
DALLAS -- A horde of reporters from Japan swarmed Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos on the final day of the Winter Meetings on Thursday.

The media contingent wanted to know whether Toronto would be interested in acquiring right-hander Yu Darvish when he is officially posted.

Anthopoulos couldn't help but laugh when he looked at the size of the group following him through the lobby, and he didn't back down when pressed for answers.

"Standard policy, I won't comment on free-agent players," Anthopoulos told the group. "I know I keep having to say it for all of these players, but I'd never talk about who we do have interest in, in respect to free agents."

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Anthopoulos was one of two general managers to make the trip to Japan to watch Darvish pitch in person this past season. That generated a lot of speculation that the Blue Jays would be major players for the 25-year-old's services in the offseason, but that would run contrary to what the team has openly stated as its goals for the offseason.

Toronto's GM continues to say his club would like to avoid dipping into free agency as much as possible. Any major improvements to the club are expected to happen through trades, and it appears questionable whether Toronto will even submit a bid for Darvish.

If the Blue Jays, as expected, take a pass on Darvish, that doesn't mean Anthopoulos' trip to Japan in early September was a waste of time. He was able to get a better feel for Darvish's overall abilities and also attempt to build in-roads into the Japanese baseball market.

"I think it's one thing to do your homework in North America; to fly over [to Japan] and do your homework is something else," Anthopoulos said. "At the same time, it's part of our job and it's learning the Asian market. I hadn't been there since 2001, and there are a lot of Asian players that are starting to come over and it's a chance for myself to get to know the market a little more, the league.

"Beyond the one player, there was a lot of value in going over there just to see the way the game is played. A lot of time, we look at stats, we look at scouting reports, but we don't know the context, and there's value even if you don't go down the path of signing the player."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.