According to media reports in New York, the purse strings at Rogers Communications have come undone – big time.
In less than one week, the Canadian telecommunications and TV giant has anted up big coin to purchase a 37.5 per cent stake in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment and, according to a report in the New York Post, has posted the leading bid – between $40- and $50-million – to negotiate with 25-year-old Japanese pitching star Yu Darvish to become a Toronto Blue Jay. The report says the Jays outbid some other teams interested in Darvish – the Texas Ranger, the Chicago Cubs and the New York Yankees.
The report also says the order to chase after Darvish came from Rogers, which controls the Toronto Blue Jays. The Jays came under media criticism when they weren't aggressive in chasing after major league hitters like Prince Fielder last week. It doesn't mean Darvish – born of a Japanese mother and an Iranian father – automatically wears a Jays uniform. Under posting rules, Darvish's Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, have first right of refusal and can accept a negotiation bid until Dec. 20. It's only then the MLB team would have 30 days to establish a contract with Darvish.
What's made Rogers spend money when the company was famed for keeping a tight rein on expenses? The Blue Jays have an owner with deep pockets. Rogers Communications have claimed before that they are not afraid to spend money – but they've said it depends on attendance increasing and the team being a contender.
Don't think they're afraid to spend – but they'll spend wisely. General manager Alex Anthopoulos went to Japan himself to scout Darvish, not once but twice. This tells us the Jays are serious in pursuing him. In landing Darvish – and if the right-hander can bring his game with him – they could conceivably go a long way to fulfilling the goals of having a contender and bringing fans through the turnstiles.
The 6-foot-5 pitcher has a 1.99 career earned run average at home, had an 18-6 record last season and 276 strikeouts in 2011. According to reports, Darvish has a personality that can win over a multicultural market and better control of a seven-pitch arsenal than two previous Japanese imports, Hideki Irabu and Daisuke Matsuzaka. It's expensive to talk to him, if the report of the $50-million posting is accurate. But the dividends may be worth it.