Originally written on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 12/8/11

The Hot Stove League is about to get a whole lot hotter.  After weeks of vascillation, stud Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish has finally decided to make the jump to Major League Baseball.  So says Yu's agent on Twitter:

donnomura Yu Darvish being posted tomorrow #darvish 12 minutes ago

First, how great is it that a Japanese player agent is savvy enough to try and hashtag Darvish?  Second, did you enjoy the off-season being dominated by a team like the Miami Marlins while the usual big spenders, the Yankees and Red Sox, laid dormant?  I sure hope so, because that could change starting effective immediately.  Also starting immediately, blog post titles based entirely around word play on "Yu."

With Mark Buehrle freshly signed by the Marlins and C.J. Wilson supposedly on the verge of picking a new team, Darvish is poised to become the best starting pitcher on the free agent market.  Many would actually argue that Darvish would still be the best even if those two were still available.  One would also argue that Darvish isn't exactly on the free agent market since he is only available via the arcane posting system.  Rather than negotiate with Darvish, teams must submit closed bids for his rights.  Whoever wins gets to then negotiate with him exclusively.

Expect the bidding to be intense for the 25-year old Darvish, arguably the best pitcher to come out of Japan to date.  It remains to be seen how much he will fetch in the posting process, but know that a similarly hyped Daisuke Matsuzaka went for just north of $51 million in posting fee alone.  Since Dice-K hasn't panned out it could suppress Yu's price a bit, but Darvish is considered to be a safer bet than Matsuzaka.

So who should we expect to bid on Darvish's rights?

The Yankees need pitching and have been suspiciously quiet this off-season.  It wouldn't be the least bit surprising if they were in the mix.

The same goes for the equally inactive Boston Red Sox, that is assuming they weren't scared off by their experience with Dice-K.

It is possible Rangers could make a run at Darvish now that it appears they will be letting C.J. Wilson walk away.

After getting skunked on Mark Buehrle, the Washington Nationals could be positioned to push for Darvish.

The Toronto Blue Jays have long been considered dark horses in the Darvish sweepstakes.

Finally, I think it is safe to say that we can't rule out the Miami Marlins on anything this off-season, so don't be shocked if they throw their ugly multi-colored hat into the ring.

It is shaping up to be an exciting process, and that is just the posting part (a process that can take about a week, by the way).  Once the winning team has their bid accepted, they'll have 30 days to work out a contract with Darvish, which could be just as interesting.

Gentlemen, the bidding begins tomorrow.  Yu have been warned. (See what I did there? Zing!)

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