Thursday, December 14, 2006
The deadline was looming. The entirety of Red Sox Nation was worried about whether or not we'd sign Daisuke Matsuzaka, and for what price. Rumors placed Boras's unyielding demands at $70 million for 6 seasons. It seemed like the possibilities of signing the WBC MVP were waning by the hour as the clock ticked.
Red Sox brass flew out to southern California to meet with Matsuzaka and agent Scott Boras. After talking, and reporting "frustration" to the ever attentive Red Sox Press Corps, things looked dreary.
The Red Sox issued a deadline of their own. Theo Epstein and associates would be boarding a private plane for Boston on Wednesday morning, with or without Matsuzaka. Wednesday morning came and Matsuzaka and Boras boarded the private plane with the minds behind the Sox. Things seemed to be looking up.
Reports popped up all over the internet, citing "unknown sources close to the negotiations." They were all saying that the team was very, VERY, close to making a deal for Matsuzaka. Of course, these were the same sites and reporters that claimed that the deal was essentially dead.
Boston.com posted a link that allowed fans to observe live updates of the private plane's flight path. I'll admit to checking it from time to time, to see how close it was. As a matter of fact, the plane flew very near Ithaca, NY, where I am currently situated. No, I didn't make any giant signs or anything, I was too busy doing work. Plus, any sign visible from 20,000 feet would have to be pretty monstrous.
The plane landed at Hanscom Field in Bedford. With a police escort, Matsuzaka was brought to Mass. General and underwent a physical. Reportedly, the deal had been struck and was impending only the results of said physical before it went into effect.
Even RedSox.com reported the deal as being all but finalized, with an official announcement expected to come Thursday afternoon. The deal is said to be $52 million over 6 years, or $8.67 million per year. That means that in total, the Sox will be paying $103.1 million for Matsuzaka. If we only keep him for the 6 years, that's a $17.2 million per season investment.
The price is good, though, trust me. Do you see what other teams are paying for 35 year old #2/#3 starters these days? Meanwhile, we get a 26 year old with stuff that could make him an Ace in the Majors. We also got Scott Boras to come down on his proposed contract by about $20 million. As far as accomplishments go, that's just a step below winning the World Series.
So why did Boras go down? Was the $70 million a ploy? Here's a couple of reasons why that number may have decreased. Firstly, his client could have urged Boras to get the deal done. Matsuzaka wants to pitch in the Majors, and perhaps didn't want to spend another year in NPB. Another factor is that he truly is an unproven commodity. Another factor is that he will be 32 when this deal ends, which means that if he plays well in MLB, he'll receive a very good contract. Another factor is that if the deal didn't get done, teams might be somewhat wary of posting a huge sum for him, knowing he'd want to get even more in his contract.
In the end, I think that Matsuzaka's desire to pitch in the Majors superseded his desire to get a massive contract.
The big question now is, will the Sox be able to churn out some Matsuzaka merchandise before Christmas?
IN OTHER NEWS
Julio Lugo was introduced to the media by Terry Francona and Assistant GM Jed Hoyer.
The Sox also came to terms on a 1 year deal with Doug Mirabelli. The deal is said to be worth $700,000 and includes performance based incentives.
There's also a rumor that the Sox might be looking at Chan Ho Park as a potential closer. Reportedly, this was something discussed between Park's agent, Boras, and Theo on the plane.