The Big Heist
The Boston Red Sox and Diasuke Matsuzaka reached agreement Wednesday on a six-year contract that will pay the Japanese star $52 million plus the potential for an additional $8 million in escalators based on awards. Matsuzaka will also receive a "litany of personal comforts" as described by his agent Scott Boras, including an interpreter, personal assistant, therapists, special housing and transportation arrangements and accommodations for his wife, and 80-90 flights over the course of the deal.
The deal calls for Matsuzaka to receive a $2 million signing bonus, a $6 million salary in 2007, followed by $8 million in each of the following three seasons, and $10 million in each of the final two years. Aside from the personal services side of the equation, the Red Sox will spend a minimum of $103.1M and a maximum of $111.1M (including the $51.1M posting fee) to secure the 26-year-old righthander for the next six years. In other words, Boston winds up paying Barry Zito-money for Matsuzaka, and the MVP of the World Baseball Classic last spring makes less dough than Gil Meche. Go figure.
Matsuzaka will actually cost the Red Sox less than what Zito is likely to command because the $51.1M posting fee is not subject to luxury taxes. At a rate of 40% for clubs over the threshold three or more times, John Henry & Co. could save more than $20M over the life of the D-Mat contract. Credit Henry, Larry Lucchino, and Theo Epstein for waiting Boras and Matsuzaka out and getting their man on the cheap at the eleventh hour.
The man whose first name is pronounced "Dice-K" joins fellow 26-year-olds Josh Beckett and Jonathan Papelbon, plus Curt Schilling and Tim Wakefield in a rotation that potentially becomes one of the most powerful in the game. Boston also has Jon Lester as its "sixth man" and Clay Buchholz waiting in the wings. The only piece of the puzzle still missing is a top-shelf closer to shut down the opposition in the late innings. Could the Red Sox sign Roger Clemens and ask Papelbon to gut it out for one more year in the 'pen? Paps may not be too happy about that but Sox fans sure would be.
What kind of numbers do you expect Matsuzaka to post? I'm going to set the range at 14-16 wins, 3.50-4.00 ERA, and 150-180 strikeouts. You can take the unders, the middle, or the overs.