Posted: Thursday November 16, 2006 1:48AM; Updated: Thursday November 16, 2006 9:28PM
Boras' other unspoken option
Daisuke Matsuzaka has been one of the most dominant pitchers in Japan's Pacific League over the past eight seasons.
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Some baseball executives view Boston's bold $51.1 million bid as a reason it won't be able to pay Matsuzaka what he's worth. But some other executives suggested that the size of the bid only suggests how much they want the pitcher and may actually add pressure on the Red Sox to sign Matsuzaka.
And guess what? There's another reason agent Scott Boras isn't panicking. He has an ace up his sleeve that no one seems to have thought of yet.
If it gets to the end of the 30-day negotiating period and Boras doesn't believe Boston is bargaining in good faith or deems their offer is insulting for his mega-talent, he could simply go to Seibu and try to negotiate Matsuzaka's exit as a free agent. He could try to purchase free agency for Matsuzaka in a month or he could try it in a year.
While Boras surely couldn't pay Seibu $51.1 million, if Boras can't make a deal with Boston, Seibu gets nothing. And something is better than nothing.
Say D-Day comes and Boras and Boston don't have a deal. Boras could try offering Seibu some portion of the $51.1 million for Matsuzaka's free agency, then shop him to all 30 teams. And considering the feeding frenzy for Matsuzaka (the Mets also made a strong bid, submitting $39 million and change, according to a person in the know), it wouldn't be a surprise if he could swing a $100 million-plus deal as a free agent.
Whatever happens, as it stands the system isn't fair to the player. The Lions paid Matsuzaka only $2.6 million last season and now stand to make 25 times that figure should Boston and Boras work it out. In eight years pitching for Seibu, Matsuzaka hasn't even been paid half the winning bid.
The rules that produced this stunning windfall for Seibu need to be overhauled. Japanese League baseball players need Don Fehr, Gene Orza and Michael Weiner working on their behalf.
Bonds market watch
Barry Bonds is getting to the point of entertaining visiting owners interested in signing him away from the Giants, a clear indication talks aren't progressing as hoped with the Giants. "Talks are moving along and several team owners have requested meetings with Barry,'' agent Jeff Borris told SI.com Wednesday
Borris said not all the interested teams are from the American League, and at least one and maybe more from the AL is interested in Bonds playing left field. One team that considered Bonds in 2001 was the Oakland A's, which appreciates high on-base machines and comes with more fans who have a favorable impression of Bonds. Yet, they're not the types to get into bidding wars.
In this market, Bonds should top the $13 million Gary Sheffield got. But Bonds' openness to meeting with other teams may indicate the Giants haven't yet stepped to the plate.
Around the Majors
Mike Mussina is all but signed to a new two-year, $22.5 million deal with the Yankees.
Greg Maddux and the Dodgers have hit a hiccup in talks, and Maddux has one viable option in the Padres, who are a little more than an hour from his Dana Point home. The Dodgers are believed interested in giving Maddux a one-year deal when he is seeking two.
Nomar Garciaparra is in the same situation. He wants to stay with the Dodgers and seeks a multiyear deal. Considering Garciaparra's superb season, the Dodgers should eventually accede to that request.
Smart move for the Blue Jays to sign Frank Thomas for $23 million over two years ... though not as good a deal as the $500,000 guaranteed he signed for last winter with Oakland.
With Barry Zito all but gone from the A's, looks like a rough winter for Oakland. But hey, at least they got their new home in Fremont.
Best stat of any free agents: Zito wins 96 percent of his games when the A's scored four or more runs for him. Second-best stat: Zito was 15-0 last year when the A's scored at least three runs.
Orlando Hernandez actually got $12.04 million from the Mets, still a fair deal for a clutch pitcher.
Joe Girardi's selection as NL Manager of the Year makes his Marlins bosses look slightly petty for firing him. He becomes the first manager ever fired for a year in which he won that honor. (Davey Johnson resigned from the Orioles in 1997 on the same day he was named the AL Manager of the Year.) Good for Girardi that he refrained from making any snarky remarks on Wednesday's conference call.
My favorite trade so far is the one where the Mets got (Royce) Ring and (Heath) Bell. Where is Anita Ward when you need her? Mets GM Omar Minaya was happy to get athletic outfielder Ben Johnson, while Padres GM Kevin Towers likes Bell.
Favorite Internet offering has to be the Carl Pavano "game-used cap.'' The price is set at $150, and it isn't because Pavano is so well thought of. It's because a cap such as this is that rare.