NegotiationsIt should be no surprise that the Red Sox and Scott Boras are having a tough time coming together on a contract for the services of Daisuke Matsuzaka, at least in the early going. The Sox put up a tremendous bid to acquire exclusive negotiating rights, and are looking to offset their cost by starting at the low end of the contractual spectrum. I can't blame them.
Tony Massarotti of the Boston Herald reports that the Red Sox are seeking to lock up Matsuzaka for something in the neighborhood of $7-8 million a season, probably over the standard 6 year period that Japan and the MLB people have negotiated into the posting system. The overall value of a Matsuzaka contract at 6 years and $7 million would come to roughly $15.5 million a season, when factoring in the posting fee. That's a very nice deal if the Sox can pull it off. You'd have to take your hat off to Theo Epstein if he can work that magic. It seems next to impossible by all accounts though, as Boras has other things he's working on.
Take for example, Barry Zito. With the astronomical contracts that have been shelled out to Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Lee, and the equally exorbitant fees being shelled out for guys league average and below, it stands to reason that Boras wants Zito to be the biggest cash cow of the crop. He's a young left handed starter with a Cy Young on his resume. He's signing his last contract in his prime. The rest of the league will fall in line with Zito's money, and the other Boras clients will surely look to Zito's deal as a symbol of the super agent's power to get them a similar price when it's their turn.
Take into account the fact that Ted Lilly is looking for $9 million a season, and you have the market for Matsuzaka. If Lilly is a $9 million a year pitcher, and Zito expects to cash in a 5 years and $75 million, you find Matsuzaka in between somewhere. If the Sox hope to bring Daisuke to Boston, they need to start at $12 million a season.
The other sticking point that the Red Sox and Boras have met is the aforementioned 6 year player rights. Boras knows that Matsuzaka's best chance at cashing in big for a second time is to get him a contract before he turns 30. That means a 3 year deal. For the Red Sox, it would mean paying out $87 million over 3 years for a pitcher that might bolt for greener pastures in the not too distant future. $29 million a season out of pocket is not chump change. Who wants to spend big on dinner and then go home alone?
If I had to put on my magic hat and make a prognostication, I'd bet that the lowball offer that the Red Sox are throwing out there will grow, in exchange for more years. I'm guessing that both parties will settle on something in the neighborhood of $48 million over 4 years. That would mean an out of pocket expense of $99 million over 4 seasons, which comes to just under $25 million annually. Wow! God bless you Daisuke Matsuzaka. I do think it will get done though.