Sources: Red Sox may have top Matsuzaka bid

Updated: November 14, 2006, 12:37 AM ET
By Buster Olney | ESPN The Magazine

The Boston Red Sox may have posted the top bid for the right to negotiate with Japanese right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka, according to Major League Baseball sources.

There has been no official announcement, and the Seibu Lions, Matsuzaka's team in Japan, have until Tuesday to accept or reject the high bid.

But, according to officials monitoring the bidding, the Red Sox bid may be between $38 million and $45 million.

Sources told ESPN's Peter Gammons that Boston's bid was $42 million, far exceeding any other team's bid.

According to a source, Texas bid about $22 million for Matsuzaka, with the intention of offering a contract of five years and $50 million if the Rangers had the top bid.

Matsuzaka, who pitched for Japan's World Baseball Classic champions, is considered among the top prospects available this offseason.

If the Lions accept the top bid, the winning bidder has 30 days to reach an agreement with Matsuzaka. If a deal cannot be reached, he would return to the Lions for the 2007 Japanese baseball season.

By 5 p.m. Wednesday, major league teams interested in bidding on the rights to deal with Matsuzaka had to post a sealed bid. Major League Baseball then took the highest bid and forwarded only the dollar figure -- not the identity of the team -- to the Seibu Lions.

According to a source within Major League Baseball, as of Friday afternoon, Seibu had not informed MLB officially whether it had accepted the bid.

There are three reasons the deal would make sense for the Red Sox:

• Talent evaluators who have seen Matsuzaka say he's a top of the rotation-quality pitcher who would improve the Red Sox staff.

•  If Boston signs him it would effectively plant a Red Sox flag in the growing Far East market.

• By merely winning the bidding the Red Sox would block the Yankees from acquiring Matsuzaka. By signing him, they would gain the same kind of advantage the Yankees gained when they signed Johnny Damon away from Boston.

Buster Olney is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.

Buster Olney | email

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine

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