Daisuke Matsuzaka will become a member of the Red Sox. Don't you worry.
There is so much to gain for all parties involved in the Matsuzaka negotiations that the deal will get done, though it may go down to the December 14 deadline.
The Seibu Lions certainly have much to gain - $51.11 million to be exact - and they will do all they can to assure that an agreement is reached between agent Scott Boras and the Sox.
Initially, most executives believed that Boras would seek a short-term contract of only three or four years, allowing Matsuzaka to then file for free agency and an even more lucrative payday. But the latest reports indicate that Boras is now be seeking a six-year deal in the $12 million-a-year range. Including the $51.1 million posting fee paid for the right to negotiate with Matsuzaka, the total annual cost to the Sox would rise to more than $20 million a year, an unprecedented long-term contract for a pitcher.
But at this point, the two sides appear to be far apart in determining the Japanese hurler's value. The team is said to have made an offer of about $7 million to $8 million annually, and that could go as high as $10 million per season before the negotiations conclude.
If Matsuzaka doesn't come to terms with the Sox, the Lions must return the posting bid. Since the Lions had initially hoped for a bid in the $25-$30 million range, the Red Sox' ginormous post entirely exceeded their expectations. Considering the potential windfall, the Lions will do all they can to ensure that Matsuzaka dons a Red Sox uniform in 2007. And it's hard to imagine Matsuzaka returning to Japan rather than accepting a multi-million dollar offer from the Red Sox.
After asking the Lions to post him for the last two seasons, the heat will be on Matsuzaka to accept the Sox' offer, which could potentially triple his 2006 Lions salary of $3 million. By Japanese cultural standards, rejecting the Sox' offer and returning to Seibu would be viewed as greedy and dishonorable. Matsuzaka will not allow that to happen, and he will realize his dream of pitching in the Majors.
And if Boras hopes to represent other Japanese players in the future, this deal must get done. There are no other bidders this year. There is no one else to use as leverage. Ten percent of whatever the Sox are offering is better than nothing at all.
The Sox breathtaking posting fee was a sound move for a few reasons. 1.) It guaranteed exclusivity in the negotiations and kept all other competitors (namely the Yankees) at bay. 2.) It doesn't count toward the luxury tax since the post is exempt from such accounting. 3.) The Red Sox think it is wiser to spend $20 million a year, or more, on Matsuzaka, than to invest $15 million-plus a year in Barry Zito and Jason Schmidt, who many baseball people view as No. 2 starters, not true dominators.
Lastly, the Sox have put the pressure squarely on Matsuzaka. But that isn't enough. The Sox have to bring home the prize. They have the season's biggest fish on the line, but it only matters if they reel him in - which is why they will.
Copyright © 2006 Sean M. Kennedy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the author's consent.