December 13, 2006

It would appear that, as expected, the Boston Red Sox’ negotiations with MLB uber-agent Scott Boras over the services of Japanese phenom pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka will go down the the deadline. At this point, one of two things can happen: 1) the Sox sign Matsuzaka to some kind of a annual deal (on top of the $51 million they would already have to pony up to Matsuzaka’s Japanese team, the Seibu Lions), or 2) no deal gets done, the Sox get their $51 mil back, the Lions are pi$$ed, and Matsuzaka returns to Japan to play another season or two before trying it all over again.

While the Sox have recently begun making ominous statements about Boras not appearing to want to make a deal, I have to believe even a greedy, egomaniacal snake like Scott Boras has to believe it’s to everyone’s advantage – especially Matsuzaka’s – to get a deal done now if he wants to realize his dream of playing Major League Baseball. If, for some reason, Boras has convinced the hurler to take his ball and go home simply because the Sox don’t feel as if he’s earned the right to make the same amount of money as the best-paid starting pitchers in Major League Baseball (which is absolutely true), he’s doing his client a grave disservice.

The fact that Boras believes Matsuzaka should be paid amongst the major leagues’ highest-paid pitchers shouldn’t surprise anyone, for Boras has established a reputation for getting his players top dollar, and like him or not, he’s very good at what he does. But at some point, in an industry awash in greed, one would think even Boras would have some concern for his client and the unbelievable amount of pressure and criticism that would immediately come down upon Matsuzaka if a deal were not to get done.

The disadvantages to Matsuzaka not signing with the Sox and returning to Japan are obvious:

1) The player has said how much he wants to play Major League Baseball. And, as ESPN’s Jim Allen writes, all of Japan’s hopes are riding on Matsuzaka to make good. In a culture that values loyalty and honor and all that kind of stuff, Matsuzaka would be raked over the coals by his fellow countrymen if he allows Boras to prevent this from happening.

2) His Japanese team, the Seibu Lions, would lose out on a HUGE payday. Whether MLB’s bidding system for Japanese players is fair or not, or convoluted or not, the fact is, you can buy A LOT of sushi for $51 mil, and who do you think will get blamed if the Lions have to send their $51 mil back? Hint: it won’t be Boras.

3) Matsuzaka’s services will never be worth more than they are now. Age-wise, he’s at the height of his career, and who knows what will happen in a year or two. He’ll be older, have thrown more pitches, and, most importantly, be risking it all by getting injured before he had the chance to go through the bidding process all over again. Perhaps the MLB market the next time around will be as robust and free-spending as it has been this off-season, but who knows?

4) If Boras refuses to make a deal with the Sox this time around, I can guaranteee teams will think twice before wanting to get involved the next time Matsuzaka (or any other Boras client from Japan) tests the whole bidding process all over again. If no deal is made, you can bet your favorite fungo bat that, sooner or later, word will come out how much money Matsuzaka left on the table. That immediately sets the ceiling for his services the next time around, as teams will rightfully use the argument that Matsuzaka will be a year older, with more pitches thrown under his belt, and if the Sox though he was worth ‘x’ this year, why should he be worth the same next year?

Look for a deal to get done in the next 24 hours or all hell will break loose in Beantown. It oughta be interesting.

UPDATE 12/13/06, 5:45 PM MST: It would appear that a deal is imminent, if not already informally agreed upon, pending a physical. Dice-K (how his first name os pronounced, BTW), welcome to your honeymoon in Beantown. Let’s hope it’s a long one!

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 01:48 | Comments Off on A Greedy Deadline
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