MLB fans can't wait for Yu Darvish to sign with their team—but will he ever leave his home country?
This year's Major League Baseball off-season has some of the game's best players testing free agency, with power-hitting first basemen Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder on the market. While many fans hang on each new development regarding those two stars—and whether sought-after shortstop Jose Reyes really decides to don the Miami Marlins interior-of-a-lounge uniform for 2012—another player, who hails from Japan but is half Iranian and doesn't mind posing nude, has been forcing baseball observers to refresh MLB Trade Rumors more than usual. ESPN's Keith Law and Yahoo! Sports ranked him the third-best available free agent at the moment, and teams might have to cough up millions of dollars to just negotiate with him.
He's pitcher Yu Darvish, and he's generated a lot of hype this off-season. The New York Times called him one of "the most coveted players" in Japan right now, while the Wall Street Journal and Sports Illustrated used Darvish as a jumping-off point to talk about Japanese players coming to America. This is on top of countless blog posts, from New York Yankees fans to Seattle Mariners supporters, wondering how Darvish would look in their team's rotation - even though he hasn't even decided whether he wants to play in MLB.
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The off-season attention paid to Darvish, a 25-year-old right-hander currently signed with Nippon Professional Baseball's Nippon Ham Fighters, has been an annual event since 2007, as baseball writers and analysts speculate if "this will be the year" Darvish comes to the MLB. Yet the rumors have been particularly persistent this year. The bump in media attention makes it sound like he's already decided to come over. Darvish, though, hasn't made a decision at this point, choosing to play it coy. The best pitcher in Japan could very well decide it is better for him to forego an MLB career and just stay put in his home country.