December 12, 2006


As Japanese Pitcher Waits, Wheeling Outpaces Dealing (JACK CURRY, 12/11/06, NY Times)

If the two sides do not agree on a contract figure, Matsuzaka’s Japanese team, the Seibu Lions, will not receive any of the $51.1 million the Red Sox posted and Matsuzaka will have to return to Japan for 2007. Matsuzaka, who has told Boras he wants to pitch in the United States next year, would have to wait at least another year before he regained the chance to do that.

“If there is no deal, then all bets are off,” said Lou Melendez, the vice president for international operations for Major League Baseball. “They’d have to post him again next year, because he can’t be a free agent for two more years.” [...]

Japanese reporters said it would be awkward for Matsuzaka if he had to return to Japan. Matsuzaka has already said goodbye to his country, and the financially strapped Lions were expecting a significant payday after posting him. If Boras requests as much as $15 million a year and the Red Sox counter with $10 million, people in Japan would wonder why the lower amount was not enough.

“Nobody in Japan is expecting him to come back because the negotiations broke down,” said Yasuko Yanagita, a reporter for the Hochi Shimbun. “I don’t think this is only for the Japanese culture. But in Japan, someone asking for ‘money, money, money’ does not leave a good impression.”

Unfortunately, it's the impression Mr. Boras is known for, so his client will end up smacking him down.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 12, 2006 11:21 AM

Oh dear, you don't really believe that do you?

Let's review. So far in this saga, I've been right about virtually everything -- eg Mats olnly has to return to Japan for one year, and in 2 he's a free agent, contra your earlier belief that he had to go back for 2 years and needed to be posted again at that time.

Remind me, who was it who flew across country in desperation to meet with whom? Yeah, that Boras, he's holding no cards.

The bottom line is that the Sawx made an insulting offer of 8 mil a year to someone they clearly consider a top of the rotation starter, given what they bid just to talk to him. Boras ignored them. Rightly. That's Adam Eaton money.

The boy genius in response wet his pants and got on a transcontinental flight in a desperate attempt to save his job.

At the end of the day, the deal will get done. B/c the Sawx, and especially the boy wonder, can't afford not to get in done.

I'd guess either 5 years at 13 mil or 4 at 15.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at December 12, 2006 3:36 PM

Nothing's changed since the day he was posted.

At a minimum the Sox have kept him from the Yankees until the 2009 season without spending a dime.

At a maximum they get him for Matt Clement money.

He has to sign because he's Japanese.

The best part of it all is the Yanks were so desperate they just pissed away a huge chunk of change on Petite. Hard to see how things could have worked out any better.

To top it all off, the Rangers just signed Gagne, freeing up Otsuka for inclusion in the Manny deal.

Posted by: oj at December 12, 2006 5:15 PM

At a minimum the Sox have kept him from the Yankees until the 2009 season without spending a dime.

Go Bluejays!

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at December 12, 2006 5:23 PM

Indeed, the pre-posting speculation was that the Jays would make the blowout bid to stymie the Sox and Yanks. Instead the Sox did it themselves.

Posted by: oj at December 12, 2006 5:33 PM

After giving Boras client JD Drew such a preposterous contract last week, it's more than a bit amusing for the second most evil franchise in baseball to be acting so cheap this week. Hey Theo--end the charade, and just give him what he wants from your infinite finances. Folks like oj and millions of his fellow cabin-fever-addled new englanders will be happy to pony up more cash for tickets, jerseys, etc. Then the rest of us can be spared from hearing about it for several months.

Posted by: b at December 12, 2006 6:07 PM

The Drew contract is about the most reasonable of this off-season. They got him for Damon/Abreu money and short term at a time when guys like Matthews and Lee were getting ridiculous dollars and or years.

That kind of moderation is why the speculation about them giving a guy whose never pitched in the majors #1 starter money was always silly. It's just not in this organization's DNA to do stuff that unnecessarily risky.

Posted by: oj at December 12, 2006 7:45 PM

Don't know what publications you people are reading but ESPN, cbssportlines, etc are putting the blame on the negotiations squarely on Boras. He, as OJ notes, is treating this just like another free agent. The Japanese press don't understand why the Sox $10MM/year isn't good enough. If the deal doesn't get done it is Boras who looks bad, not the Sox.

Posted by: AWW at December 12, 2006 9:45 PM

That's not what the press releases from Scott Boras say.

Posted by: Die Hard Yankee Fan at December 12, 2006 11:34 PM

Moderation? Chortle. Was 51 mil, outbidding everyone else by 15mil, moderation?

15mil ain't top starter money either in this market. And it's what Mats deserves, not the 8mil insult. A 51 mil bid implies you think the man's a number one starter. If you, oj, think otherwise then your argument is with Theo.

Meanwhile, once again, the Sawx don't keep him away from the Yanks til 09, only til next season, when he can be posted again. Why is this so hard to understand?

(Of course, the Yanks won't need him in 08. He would've been a one season stopgap for us, and nice insurance for the future maybe. But the Yanks kids will begin making their way into the starting rotation next year, so he won't be necessary. It's good to be the kings.)

As for the Sawx rotation w/o him -- yikes. Maybe it'll be a 4th place finish this season.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at December 13, 2006 12:24 AM

A prohibitive bid that you've no intention of ever paying and that forces the Yanks to squander money on Petite? What could be more moderate?

Do you really still not get? The Sox will bid $100 million next year. the point was never for them to take a risk that might not pay off, just to keep the Yanks from taking one that could.

The reason they won't spend that kind of money on Matsuzaka is that he'd be their #5 starter, though, assuming that Schilling retires after this season, he would move up to #4 in '08.

Posted by: oj at December 13, 2006 1:16 AM

oj: Do you really still not get it? The Yankees and the Red Sox CAN'T squander money, only roster spots. They're both like the federal gov't--they have an infinite amount of cash. They both have a long & sordid history of laughably trying to outbid themselves--do you really think anyone else was going to offer JD Drew anything even close to $14M/yr? So just pay the man his, and let's get this whole farce over with.

Posted by: b at December 13, 2006 1:26 AM

Jim - Yup, the Yanks will crush everyone in '07 just like they did in '06. I must have missed that victory parade.

Also the jury is out as to whether Mats is a #1 starter. The guy hasn't played 1 inning of American major league ball. The Sox probably paid too much for Drew but at least he has 10 yrs of major league experience to draw on.

Posted by: AWW at December 13, 2006 6:52 AM


The A's would have if they had it. Moneyball teams value things like on-base % which win games over HRs, which look nice in a guys stat line. Drew is a better baseball player, for instance, than Carlos Lee and the Sox got him cheaper and for fewer years.

The Sox aren't better than your favorite team, because of money but because of superior decision making.

Posted by: oj at December 13, 2006 9:24 AM

Jim is mostly right, although probably not about the pants-wetting.

The Sox have to match Matsuzaka's best alternative to negotiating, which is to stay 2 more years in Japan at $2 mn per year and then come to the U.S. as a free agent, in which case he might get a 4-yr $15 mn/yr contract. So, $64 over 6 years. It'll end up close to that, 6 yrs at $10-11 mn per.

The Sox apparently failed to realize they would have to pay that much, and overbid for the posting rights. Still, even if $20 mn total per yr is too much for Matsuzaka, he may put the Sox over the top for another World Series title. As a fan, I'm happy.

Posted by: pj at December 13, 2006 10:52 AM

$10 million a year is reasonable in this market, if high in reality, $20 would be absurd.

The most interesting question is why not just sign him for three years at what the Sox are willing to pay and then let Boras take him to free agency. You avoid his declining years that way and get someone else to overpay.

Posted by: oj at December 13, 2006 11:23 AM

You're right--the sox AREN'T better than my favorite team. I'm a Cardinals fan. Give Walt Jocketty the money that Theo has, and I'll be happy to wager that the Cards would come out on top, given their track records. St. Louis has not signed a major free agent in recent times (maybe ever, now that I think about it), and yet they've done pretty well for themselves, I'd say.

Does money guarantee success? Of course not. Money grants you wiggle room. Most teams can't afford to make contractual mistakes. The sox would not be contrained one iota by giving D-Mat what he wants, just like they won't be constrained by the absurd Drew contract. So cut out the claims about what's "reasonable" to give the guy--it would be grotesque if it's weren't so hilarious.

Posted by: b at December 13, 2006 12:59 PM

"If the deal doesn't get done it is Boras who looks bad, not the Sox."

I don't think the Sox really care if they "look bad". They care if they make money.

BTW, according to a quasi-insider, one of the reasons they're even considering paying the huge amount of money posting rights + contract is going to add up to is ... the potential sales of logo merchandise in Japan.

When you base decisions on statistical analysis, the most important thing is to analyze the right statisics.

Posted by: Ralph Phelan at December 13, 2006 2:33 PM

oj - You sign him for 6 years because he'll have trade value the last three years, and because Boras wants the guaranteed money.

If the reports of a 6-yr $52 mn contract are right, the Sox drove a tough bargain and exploited Mats's desire to play in the U.S. (and not deprive Seibu of $51 mn). Good for them, saved $1-2 mn per year for one more hard-to-sign draft pick annually.

Posted by: pj at December 13, 2006 4:47 PM

Not if he sucks he won't. There's a reasonable chance he will throughout the contract and very likely will by the end. No pitcher should ever get six years--they aren't healthy enough.

Posted by: oj at December 13, 2006 6:16 PM