Red Sox announce Matsuzaka deal
By HOWARD ULMAN, AP Sports Writer
December 14, 2006
BOSTON (AP) -- The man with the $100 million arm is eager to add to Boston's rich pitching history.
Daisuke Matsuzaka's $52 million, six-year contract was announced Thursday by the Boston Red Sox, who hope he will follow Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez as an ace on the Fenway Park mound.
Add the team's winning $51.11 million bid for negotiating rights to the Japanese ace, which must be paid to the Seibu Lions by Dec. 21, and Boston's investment comes to $103.11 million. That doesn't include $8 million in escalators based on Matsuzaka winning awards.
And there's still at least four months to go before he throws his first pitch in the regular season.
"Today what we're really doing is announcing the signing of a national treasure," general manager Theo Epstein said. "We understand his importance in Japan. We know what he represents.
"To the fans in Japan, we pledge to do everything we can to support Daisuke ... and to ensure that he'll be a success. Not that he needs much help," Epstein said.
Daisuke was then handed a jersey with the No. 18 -- the one last worn by Johnny Damon.
"I'm very happy and excited to be a member of the Boston Red Sox," he said through a translator.
He also said he had toured Fenway Park -- a place he'd seen several times on television -- and saw ongoing renovations.
"Very beautiful and very impressed," he said of his impressions. "When the season starts, it's going to be completed. I'm looking forward to that."
Matsuzaka arrived in Boston late Wednesday afternoon on Red Sox principal owner John Henry's plane with the Red Sox logo on its tail after team officials negotiated with agent Scott Boras in Newport Beach, Calif.
Also on board were Boras and three Red Sox officials -- chairman Tim Werner, president Larry Lucchino and Epstein. After landing, Matsuzaka waved to fans from the back seat of the vehicle taking him to Massachusetts General Hospital, where he passed a physical.
The Red Sox won the bidding rights last month. Had an agreement not been reached by midnight EST Thursday, 30 days after the Red Sox won the bidding, he would return to Japan and they would have kept their money.
While the Red Sox announced the agreement, the terms of the deal had not been filed with the commissioner's office and the players' association, a step that had to take place by midnight to finalize the contract.
The New York Yankees, Boston's archrival, bid between $32 million and $33 million for negotiating rights to Matsuzaka. But the Yankees did prevail with their bid of $26,000,194 for Japanese pitcher Kei Igawa, who played last season for the Hanshin Tigers. New York has until midnight at the end of Dec. 28 to work out a contract with Igawa's agent, Arn Tellem -- who also represents Yankees left fielder Hideki Matsui.
"I'm looking forward to having a pitching duel with Matsuzaka," Igawa said after the Yankees were awarded his rights.
Igawa figures to compete for a spot at the back of the Yankees formidable rotation that includes Chien-Ming Wang, Mike Mussina, Randy Johnson and Andy Pettitte. Besides Matsuzaka, Boston's solid rotation includes Curt Schilling, Josh Beckett, Jonathan Papelbon and Tim Wakefield. Red Sox lefty Jon Lester, who won his first five starts as a rookie last season, expects to report to spring training on time after doctors told him he's cancer-free from lymphoma.
Red Sox pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to spring training in Fort Myers, Fla., on Feb. 16. Another Japanese pitcher, lefty reliever Hideki Okajima, should be there after signing with Boston on Nov. 30.
Matsuzaka has a 108-60 record in Japan with a 2.95 ERA and 1,355 strikeouts in 204 games. He was MVP of the inaugural World Baseball Classic last March, won by Japan.
He gets a $2 million signing bonus, $6 million next year, $8 million in each of the following three seasons and $10 million in each of the final two years. The agreement includes $8 million in escalators based on awards that could bring the total to $60 million over six years.