Matsuzaka Bid = Red Sox Brilliance

The $51.11 million dollar bid to “negotiate” with Japanese star pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka may be the best off-season move made by the Red Sox yet. As talks have apparently stalled and the prospect of signing the Japanese All Star seem bleak I say this – “Who cares?”

No, I’m not downplaying the significance of adding the ballyhooed arm that the Red Sox need. What I am looking at is the position that the Red Sox have put themselves in. At first the seemingly outlandish bid of $51.11 million dollars was questioned and even criticized by some (including me). Now I see the light at the end of the tunnel. The Red Sox have placed themselves in a real win-win situation.

Here’s how – Let’s say that the deal falls through and the two sides can’t reach an agreement. The Red Sox get a full refund and no on else can sign this guy until the 2008 season. If the Red Sox do sign him, it looks like it would be at their offer price (reportedly at around $7 -$8 million dollars) – a real bargain – especially after looking at the free agency market these days.

Now let me add my speculation to the mix and the reason that I think this move is brilliant. It’s my suspicion that the Red Sox never intended to sign Matsuzaka at all. They made a low ball offer they knew would not be accepted by a player represented by Scott Boras. They had nothing to lose by making the highest bid except a couple of plane tickets to Japan and whatever interest could be made on $51.11 million dollars in 30 days.

No matter how this deal turns out, it was a shrewd play and an in your face rejection to the Yankees. It looks like the only ones to gain from this transaction is the Red Sox. It’s a bad deal for Matsuzaka and the Seibu Lions because they will wind up with nothing from this except a lost season in the Major Leagues. The other group that loses in this deal is the fans; because of the rules of this system we will not get a chance to see the best pitching talent that Japan has to offer. So even though this move was brilliant for the Red Sox it was bad for baseball. If the Red Sox never did intend to sign Matsuzaka, it should lead one to question the posting system that is currently in place to negotiate with Japanese players.

Written by: Richard Abbott