1. The Red Sox bid $51.1 million for the rights to negotiate with Daisuke Matsuzaka, with the expectation that a significant fraction of that $51.1 million would be netted back to them in the form of kickbacks or other compensation from Seibu.
2. The amount of the posting fee was just a little bit too conspicuous, and Major League Baseball made clear, both publicly and privately, that they were going to put the kibosh on any such compensation.
3. The Red Sox are not really that interested in paying a real $51.1 million for Matsuzaka, plus whatever salary they’ll pay on top of it, and never really were.
4. The Red Sox, therefore, effectively priced Matsuzaka out of the major leagues in 2007.
Now, Matsuzaka might still sign in Boston, but there’s a real chance that he’s been a non-entity to them for as long as two weeks, when the commissioner’s office made its “no side deals” declaration. If the Red Sox thought that $51 million meant $25 million, or $30 million, and it really does honest-to-goodness mean $51 million, then there’s really nothing that Scott Boras can or cannot do to get his client to Boston. Boras is a less important part of this process than people are making him out to be.
Rather, what I suspect is going on is that the Red Sox are trying to determine whether Matsuzaka really is worth a real $51 million after all, in consideration of the continued inflation in the market, the Yankees’ signing of Andy Pettitte, and perhaps the public relations cost of failing to reel in Matsuzaka at this stage.
Some fun names on Matsuzaka’s PECOTA comparables list, by the way: Kevin Appier, Luis Tiant, and Darren Dreifort.