Limited interest shown in Darvish
DALLAS - Japanese star righthander Yu Darvish will be made available to major league teams via the posting system. But the Red Sox seem lukewarm to the idea of bidding for him.
The 6-foot-5-inch Darvish was 18-6 with a 1.44 earned run average for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters of the Pacific League last season. He had 276 strikeouts.
The Blue Jays and Rangers are expected to be serious bidders for Darvish, with the Yankees always a possibility. But Sox general manager Ben Cherington does not seem enthused.
“I’m not sure the timing this offseason puts us in a position to be the most aggressive team,’’ said Cherington. “But he’s a good pitcher and we have a lot of respect for him. We’ll certainly discuss it and figure out if a [bid] makes sense.
“But we’ve got a lot of [financial] commitment to the starting rotation and feel pretty good about the front end of our rotation.’’
Under the posting system, teams have until Wednesday to submit sealed bids for the right to negotiate with Darvish. If the Fighters accept the bid, the winning team would have 30 days to reach a contract agreement. Otherwise he would return to Japan.
The Red Sox were badly burned in 2006 when they bid $51,111,111 for the right to negotiate with Daisuke Matsuzaka, then signed him to a six-year, $52 million deal.
Matsuzaka pitched well for two years but has been a bust since, going 16-15 with a 5.03 ERA the last three seasons. He has missed an average of 18 starts over those seasons because of injuries and is now recovering from elbow surgery. He is not expected back until after the All-Star break.
Former Marlins, Blue Jays, and Astros pitching coach Brad Arnsberg interviewed with Cherington yesterday morning for the vacant pitching coach position. Arnsberg lives in the area and stopped into the Hilton Anatole for a face-to-face meeting. Arnsberg, who was Josh Beckett’s pitching coach in Florida, was fired from his job with Houston last summer . . . Theo Epstein left the Red Sox for the Cubs on Oct. 22. Seven weeks later, the sides have not agreed on compensation and seem uninterested in settling the issue. “We’ll resolve it at some point,’’ said Cherington, joking that there was a loose plan to talk again at some point. Epstein, who is splitting time between Boston and Chicago, said he has used the offices at Fenway Park to conduct business while he’s in town.
The Red Sox worked the Rule 5 draft to obtain Marco Duarte, a 25-year-old righthander from the Colorado system. The Red Sox selected Cubs infielder Marwin Gonzalez with the 10th overall pick of the draft, then traded him to Houston, which had selected Duarte in the Triple A phase. The Red Sox also received some cash in the deal. Duarte was 12-4 with a 4.94 ERA in the Mexican League last season. “We’re going to get to know him better,’’ said Cherington. “He’s a guy we scouted in Mexico this winter and over the summer. His stuff really came on. It was up to 94 [miles per hour] recently. A little bit of a late bloomer. But there have been some guys who have done that in Mexico and ended up being pretty good pitchers. We’ll get to know him better in spring training.’’ . . . The Red Sox lost lefthander Cesar Cabral in the draft. He was taken by Kansas City, then traded to the Yankees for cash. Yankees GM Brian Cashman said Cabral has a chance to be the second lefty in the New York bullpen. Cabral was a Rule 5 pick last season and was returned to the Red Sox after not sticking with Tampa Bay or Toronto. He then pitched well for Single A Salem and Double A Portland, posting a 2.95 ERA with 70 strikeouts over 55 innings.
Agent Scott Boras said Jason Varitek wants to return to the Red Sox and that he is “working on that’’ with Cherington. Cherington’s comments to date have indicated only a limited interest, if that . . . J.D. Drew almost certainly will not return to Boston and could retire. But Boras said he would play for “the right team.’’ . . . Boras has not discussed a contract extension with the Red Sox for center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury. “I’m kind of getting through the free agents,’’ said Boras. “I haven’t talked about the guys who are two years away.’’ . . . The Sox signed lefthanded reliever Jesse Carlson to a split contract, with an invitation to spring training. Carlson, 30, is a Connecticut native with three years of experience, all with Toronto (3.63 ERA in 162 games). He had rotator cuff surgery last season.