While the official announcement on which club has won the bidding for the rights to negotiate with Japanese pitching sensation Daisuke Matsuzaka won't be announced until tomorrow, a report by Peter Gammons and Orestes Destrade of Baseball This Morning on XM 175 have the Red Sox as the winning club.
What is extraordinary is the price of the winning bid. Gammons is reporting $42 million, but Destrade put the figure "in excess of $50 million." Previous reports had the winning bid figure at $21 million, with the highest being $30 million. Rumor today was that the Mets bid in excess of $38 million, and lost out.
The figures are, quite frankly, fantastic in size. The word "cartoonish" has been bandied about. But, here's the deal... the Red Sox are actually in a position where they can do this and possibly not come off pulling a "Tom Hicks and A-Rod" type deal. It will still be an astounding contract at the end of the day (speculation is that Boras is asking for a five-year deal, with a jumping off salary considerably higher than the reported $50 million that has been bandied about), but can the Red Sox pull off the deal and still have Epstein and Henry looking savvy, instead of stupid?
The Red Sox have money coming off the books this off-season and next. How much? Take into consideration the following contracts (info courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts):
Money coming off the books after 2006 season:
- Trot Nixon, $6.5M
- Keith Foulke, $6M (after the buyout)
- Mark Loretta, $3M
- Alex Gonzalez, $3M
- Doug Mirabell, $1.4M
Money coming off the books after 2007:
- Curt Schilling, $13M
- Matt Clement, $9.5M
- Mike Lowell, $9M
First of all, the bid money as part of the posting process does not count against total revenues for the club, and therefore the bid fee is not factored in for revenue sharing purposes. So, that leaves us with the actual Scott Boras contract as the key consideration. Unless I missed something, if the deal that is on the table by Boras is brokered, Matsuzaka's contract will make him the highest paid pitcher in a multi-year contract ever. That's a heck of a gamble considering Matsuzaka has never thrown one pitch in the Majors.
Tuesday we'll see who won the bid to simply negotiate for the rights to Matsuzaka's services. If Boras doesn't like the deals being presented, Matsuzaka gets carted back to Japan. Still, there is every indication by how many players are passing on options, and the price that the Cubs dolled out yesterday for Aramis Ramirez, that this will be an insane off-season in terms of contract prices. With pitching at a premium, it would not be surprising to see the Red Sox go full-bore and come to terms with a Boras contract, on top of what can only be called "insane money" for the rights to simply negotiate for who many are now calling "D-Mat".
Maury Brown is the editor of The Biz of Baseball and an author for Baseball Prospectus. He can be contacted here.