Darvish, 25, is considered an ace pitcher who could help a young rotation that includes Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann. Last year, Darvish won 18 games and had a 1.44 ERA for the Nippon Ham Fighters of the Japanese Pacific League.
"I like him. Big, strong, hard thrower," Nats manager Davey Johnson said last week at the Winter Meetings. "Actually throws a lot like Americans -- you know, big, awful hard stuff. He's got good command. That's going to be an expensive deal, too, right there, but I do like him."
On the last day of the Winter Meetings, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo declined to say if the club would make a bid on Darvish, but he said the team scouted Darvish numerous times this past season.
"He has the complete package," Rizzo said last week. "He is a physical guy with stuff. He knows how to pitch. He has had success in a substantially high level of competition."
If the Nationals are unable to win the bid for Darvish, look for them to make a trade for a starting pitcher. There hasn't been much talk between the Nats and free agent Roy Oswalt, who wants a three-year deal. Washington only wants to give Oswalt a one-year deal loaded with incentives because he had problems with his back last year and made only 23 starts.
Last week, Rizzo acknowledged that the Nationals had interest in Athletics left-hander Gio Gonzalez. There has been minor talk about Cubs right-hander Matt Garza, but Rizzo realizes that he would have to trade a lot of quality players in order to get a pitcher like Gonzalez and Garza.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.