I’ve been doing some reading on this cat and a couple of thoughts come to my mind. Almost all reports indicate that he will be posted as early as tomorrow. The posting process has sealed bids with the highest bidder then being allowed to negotiate exclusively with him (and agent Scott Boras) for 30 days. If the two sides can not reach an agreement, the posting fee is returned. Ichiro fetched a $13 Million posting fee six years ago. Current speculation is that Matsuzaka could fetch double that (or more) in just the posting fee.
Now, here is where my questions come in:
One, if Matsuzaka can be a total free agent next year, why would he (led by Boras) not just wait out the one year? By coming to the US now all it does is put the alleged $25+ million in the pockets of the owner of the Seibu Lions. Conservatively, say its $20 Million to post, plus $35 million over 5 years (all indications are that Boras is going to ask for even more). That comes to $55 Million over 5 years (Burnett money) for the team. But if he is that good, why not wait the year, be a full free agent and then sign for the prorated $44 million over the last four years – the player would get $9 Million more (plus what he earned in Japan). To me, any posting fee paid by the US team is merely money taken out of the player’s pocket.
Two, what is prevent a team from bidding a ridiculous amount and not signing him, just to keep him away from other teams? Okay, you would probably create some ill will with the Japanese team/league (possibly even to the extent of damaging future transactions). And possibly with your own fans. You would likely have chance at him next year, but in the process you would increase the cost for the team that ultimately signs him (see math above). But it is a possibility.
Three, with the winning team being the exclusive negotiator, doesn’t that effectively stop Boras from doing what he does best – playing offers (fictitious or real) off one another? Then again, he got Hicks to go to $252 when no one else was above $150, so maybe it will be his finest day.
So all this adds up to a sneaking suspicion that this is all much ado about nothing. He may very well return to Japan next year.