December 17, 2011

Contrary to published reports, the top sealed bid submitted for star Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish on Wednesday was the highest in the history of the posting process, exceeding the record $51.1 million fee that the Boston Red Sox paid the Seibu Lions for the rights to negotiate with Daisuke Matsuzaka in 2006, according to Japanese league officials.

Though the identity of the major league franchise that won exclusive negotiating rights to the 25-year-old right-hander has yet to be revealed, Japanese league officials say that the offer to Darvish's team, the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, is higher than the $40-48 million range that has been reported in the U.S. and Japan.

The Fighters have until Tuesday to accept or reject the highest bid. If they accept, the high bidder has 30 days to work out a deal with Darvish's agents. If no agreement is reached, Darvish returns to the Fighters for another season, and no money changes hands.

About a half-dozen major league teams entered the auction for Darvish, who has a 1.99 ERA over seven seasons in Japan. He's reportedly seeking a five-year, $75 million contract, which would push the total package to more than $125 million. The two most aggressive bidders are believed to have been the Toronto Blue Jays and the Texas Rangers.

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