Monday, December 11, 2006

Countdown to Armageddon

As I write this, word has been out for a couple of days that talks between Boras and the Red Sox have completely broken down. The Boston Herald reported this, citing an inside source close to the negotiations, and the rest of the media has been running with it. It’s hard to say where the two sides are at this point. All that had been reported in the press about numbers was $7-8 million a season from Boston versus $15 million a season from Boras. Let’s look at it again for a moment, and decide what it means.

If the Red Sox offered $7-8 million, and are not budging, they are to blame should things fail to come together. $7-8 million a season doesn’t buy you anything remotely close to a good pitcher in the current market, when Adam Eaton is getting a multi-year deal worth $8 million per season. I doubt that this is the case, however. I suspect the Sox are willing to pay more than $10 million and have made that move with Boras already.

If Boras has an offer on the table for $12 million or more per season, and he’s not budging, he’s the villain. All parties involved in these negotiations have to realize that the posting money is a hard, cold reality when budgeting a player into a team’s payroll, and the agent should be willing to work with the team to get value within reason. I think Arn Tellem is likely working this way with Kei Igawa and the Yankees.

The possibility exists that Boras is trying to single-handedly break the posting system altogether, and he may be using Matsuzaka to do so. If this is the case, it’s unfair to everyone involved. Yes, the posting system needs to be changed. The problem is, I think there is a plan to radically change it in the follow year, regardless of the Matsuzaka situation. A lot has been made of the reputations in this little game, should this scenario prove true. Matsuzaka’s reputation with the Japanese fans. The Red Sox reputation with Japanese owners and advertisers. Boras’ reputation with everyone.

My take on this is that Boras has the least to lose, so he may be willing to throw himself into the fire and try to blow the whole thing up. If he looks like a bad guy, well, he is. People see him as a bad guy anyway. Nothing to lose, everything to gain.

Matsuzaka will return to Japan, and probably come with his tail between his legs. He doesn’t want to pitch in Japan anymore, and he’s already said his goodbyes. The thing is, if the Red Sox are offering less than $12 million, he can likely recoup that money later. If Seibu pays him $6 million a year next season and opens the posting again, they will get their money and someone will pay Matsuzaka the $15+ million he wants. That’s $21 million over two years, where the Red Sox may only pay him $20. The numbers may differ a bit, but I think the point is valid.

The Red Sox will look bad if they low-balled him when comparing his value to the present market. No one told them to bid $13 million more than the Mets. No one will feel sorry for the Red Sox if they try to get a 26-year-old ace on the cheap after throwing a giant posting fee at Seibu. On the other hand, if the Sox are negotiating in good faith and have a fair offer of more than $12 million on the table, Matsuzaka needs to speak up and say, “Yo, Boras. I’ll take it, okay.” Otherwise, the Red Sox are the victims in this situation.
What do I believe? I believe that the Sox have an offer on the table that is close to fair. I believe that Boras wants $15 million and is not budging. In the end, as I’ve said before, I think the two sides will come together on less years at money somewhere between their current standoff. The Sox will give him up to free agency early, and in exchange Boras will come down slightly off his number.

The clock is ticking………


At 5:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi mike,

I've always enjoyed your blogs. I am a big fan of Matsuzaka as well. It's so hard to find a place to talk intelligently about baseball nowadays because you constantly run into disrespectful punks who throw juvenile comments at you. That being said, let me get on with my comments on Matsuzaka.

As a Met fan, I have to say I am very upset by what the Redsox did in this entire process. Their intention was very clear from the beginning. They were exploring every possible loopholes in the posting system to obtain D-Mat with no intention of competing fairly with other teams. This is what they did:

1. They made an insane bid of 51 million for the rights to negotiate with Matsuzaka. No one put a gun to their head and made them do so. Now they are arguing that 8 mil per year for 4-6 years is a "fair" deal for Matsuzaka. If Dice K's value is this low, why would they consciously make a bid of 51 mil just to talk to the guy in the first place? If the Redsox truly value D-Mat as an 8-mil-per-year player, there are plenty of such players in the Market this year, why didn't they give, say Lilly's former team Blue Jays 51 millions for his service before Lilly becomes a FA? They did it to D-Mat only because they took advantage of the flawed posting system blocking their competitors and then tried to offset that extra cost from Matsuzaka's contract. If that's not an unethical low-ball move, I don't know what is.

2. Not only did the Sox try to offset the cost on Matsuzaka, but they also made an attempt on the Lions. Reports said that they sent their president to Japan to creat a "working" relationship with the Lions. In other words, they want to persuade the Lions to take less money. Clearly it's understood by every team before the bidding that such things are not allowed. Yet they made the attempt anyway.

3. After those attempts failed, the Sox blamed it on Boras, and some people really bought it.

First of all, a "fair" deal has to be consistent with its true market value. If I got a HD TV priced at $2000 for only $100, it is not a "fair" deal for the seller. If I had to pay $5000, then it is not a "fair" deal to me.

Schmidt is a 16 mil/year pitcher. At least, that's what the current market told us. Some people might not think D-Mat worth more than him as I might not think that HD TV worth $2000, but it is irrelevant. The market price is the criteria for a "fair" deal. Many teams, including the Mets, value D-Mat higher than Zito and Schmidt, and at least 3 of them bid more than 30 mil for him. That constitutes as his market price, which is probably as high as 20 mil/year. Considering D-Mat isn't a FA, he should surrender some of his salary for getting out of Japan early. So Boras' demand of 15 mil/year is not inconsistent with the market value. However, the 7-8 mil per year for 4-6 year is just as ridiculous as the $100 for that HD TV. The fault is in Redsox's attempts to manipulate the system, and they should be punished for doing so.

If Bud Selig has any interest in doing anything positive for the game of baseball, he should give the negotiating rights to the second highest bidder: the Mets.

And you are right, Mike. If the Redsox truly respect D-Mat, they should offer him at least 12 mil/year and bite their own bullet. If they do that, I believe Boras will accept it because the 3 mil/year difference in commission isn't worth all that trouble.

At 11:26 PM, Blogger btp said...

I think what has been reported is that the Sox made an offer and have had no response, no counteroffer from Boras. So while 7-9m might be considered a lowball bid, it is also apparently their first offer. If Boras doesn't respond, then it's obvious he had little intention of doing a market deal, because regradless of what he thinks, Matsuzaka is NOT a free agent.

I think it's more likely that he is taking advantage of the most important bargaining chip that he has, which is the 12/14 deadline.


Post a Comment

<< Home