Posted: Tuesday October 24, 2006 5:59PM; Updated: Tuesday October 24, 2006 6:02PM
Daisuke Matsuzaka was the most valuable player of the World Baseball Classic.
By Jon Heyman, SI.com
Top Japanese League pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka has hired agent Scott Boras to represent his interests in Major League Baseball.
Matsuzaka, a right-hander from the Seibu Lions, is expected to be posted, the process by which players jump to the majors. The posting fee is expected to be a record, as much as $30 million, in what amounts to a bidding situation.
Matsuzaka, 26, was 17-5 with a 2.13 ERA and 200 strikeouts this season.
The Yankees, Mets, Dodgers, Red Sox and Mariners are among teams that are expected to show interest in Matsuzaka, a hard thrower who is known for his unique "gyroball," his own brand of slider.
"He's got a 95-mph fastball, a phenomenal breaking ball and he's a bulldog on the mound,'' Boras said. "He's got No. 1 stuff, and there are only 12 to 15 No. 1 type pitchers in the majors.''
Most scouts have concurred that Matsuzaka is a special pitcher.
If the team that wins the bid doesn't sign Matsuzaka, the posting fee is returned to the team. In that less likely scenario, Matsuzaka would return to Seibu and become a full-fledged free agent in a year. Said Boras, "They'd really lose the opportunity to make their team better.'' But Boras also said, "It's an unusual free agency.''