Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I just don't get it...

$51 million just for the rights to negotiate with a player who probably won't be willing to sign for more than three years because he'll want to hit the free agent market while he's still young? I just can't seem to figure out how this could be a good deal.

I understand the value of keeping him away from the Yankees (and don't confuse my confusion with sour grapes), but let's do the math. If the Red Sox sign Daisuke Matsuzaka, the Japanese phenom, to a three-year deal, they'll already be paying $17 million per year to his former team. He gets none of this, so even if they pay him "only" $8 million per year, that's a total of $25 million.

Johan Santana, inarguably the best pitcher in baseball, makes $10 million per year. How can this guy be worth 2 1/2 times what Santana is worth? I realize Santana signed his extension two years ago, after his first Cy Young (he wins his second tomorrow), and, of course, the market has changed since then, but I still don't understand this move. If they can get him to sign for four years, then maybe they can offer him as much as $10 million per, but if the guy truly is worth this much then this reinforces the fact that he won't sign for more than three years.

Of course, the Red Sox don't have to pay the money if they don't sign him, but I've read that they have to negotiate in good faith or else they'll do major damage to MLB's relationship with the Japanese leagues. My theory is that they're going to offer him more money per year the longer the contract he signs...something like $6 million per for three years, $10 million for four, $12 million for five. In each of these scenarios they're still paying him in the $22-$23 million per year range.

Or, maybe they're counting on the fact that Scott Boras is such a difficult agent to deal with, and they plan on playing hardball and hoping that whatever their final offer is, it doesn't get accepted. Then, they don't have to be on the hook for an "out of this world" salary, and they can rest easy knowing that the Yankees didn't get him either.

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