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Baseball notebook

Cubs bid for Yu Darvish

Cubs also have eyes on Fielder

The Cubs are one of the teams to put in a bid on Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish, but their bid may not be the highest, according to ESPN.

Darvish, 25, was posted by the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters this week. Bidding closed Wednesday, and the Ham Fighters have until Tuesday to accept a bid.

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The posting process allows major league teams to send a blind one-time-only bid to the Ham Fighters to be able to negotiate the contract exclusively with Darvish. If the bid is accepted, Major League Baseball will announce which team won the rights and that club will have 30 days to agree to a contract.

The posting fee will be paid only if an agreement is reached with Darvish’s agents.

As Red Sox general manager in 2006, current Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein had the highest bid in major league history for a Japanese player, $51 million, to negotiate with Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Media reports also cite the Cubs as one of several teams interested in first baseman Prince Fielder. The slugger is reportedly seeking a 10-year contract similar to the $254 million contract Albert Pujols received from the Angels.

Fielder is a career .282 hitter, averaging 38 homers over the last six years. He boasts a career .298 average at Wrigley Field with 11 homers and 15 doubles.

Epstein has said he prefers to pay for the future, not the past. At 27, Fielder appears to have a lot of upside and could thrive under manager Dale Sveum, his former hitting coach in Milwaukee.

Twins ink Willingham

The Twins welcomed Josh Willingham to the team, signing the outfielder to a $21 million, three-year contract. Adding the righthanded Willingham will help balance a lefty-heavy lineup and ease the sting if Michael Cuddyer doesn’t return. The 32-year-old hit .246 with a career-high 29 homers and 98 RBIs for the A’s last year. . . . Lefthander Dontrelle Willis agreed to a one-year contract with the Phillies, worth $850,000. Willis, 30, who went 1-6 with a 5.00 ERA for Cincinnati last year, was the 2003 NL Rookie of the Year with Florida and finished second in Cy Young Award voting in 2005 . . . J.C. Romero agreed to a one-year deal with the Cardinals. The lefthanded reliever split last season between Philadelphia and Colorado, going 1-0 with a 4.01 ERA in 24 2/3 innings over 36 games . . . The Orioles introduced Japanese lefthander Tsuyoshi Wada at a news conference, one day after he signed a two-year, $8.14 million contract . . . Derek Holland and the Rangers are discussing a five-year contract that would allow the team to buy out his arbitration years and keep him at the beginning of his free agency period, according to ESPN.

Owners ratify new CBA

Major League Baseball owners unanimously ratified a five-year collective bargaining agreement, through 2016. The players’ association announced Dec. 1 that its executive board had ratified the agreement, which was signed Nov. 22. The deal starts blood testing for human growth hormone and institutes restraints on signing bonuses for amateur draft picks and international players coming to the big leagues . . . Mets general manager Sandy Alderson, Tampa Bay executive vice president Andrew Friedman, and retired player Tony Clark were appointed to a committee to study whether baseball should have an international draft. The committee is co-chaired by union head Michael Weiner and MLB executive vice president Rob Manfred. The June draft is currently limited to residents of the United States, US territories, and Canada, while residents of other nations are free agents.

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