Red Sox head to Boston with Matsuzaka

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor


Associated Press

BOSTON - Daisuke Matsuzaka headed to Boston on Wednesday with Red Sox officials, a sign the team had reached a preliminary agreement with the star pitcher.
"They all took off together," Red Sox owner John Henry said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.
Team president Larry Lucchino said shortly after noon EST that the plane was leaving California.
"You should assume a deal is close or done," an official with knowledge of the negotiations said, speaking on condition of anonymity because no announcement had been made.
In prior days, agent Scott Boras had said he would not allow Matsuzaka to travel to Boston for a physical unless the sides had reached a preliminary agreement.
Boston officials traveled to Newport Beach, Calif., on Monday on Henry's plane and said they would return Wednesday with or without Matsuzaka. The team and Matsuzaka have a midnight Thursday EST deadline to reach an agreement.
The Red Sox called a news conference for Wednesday afternoon to introduce shortstop Julio Lugo, who agreed to a $36 million, four-year deal last week. With the top Red Sox brass still en route, manager Terry Francona and assistant general manager Jed Hoyer were to attend that event.
Boston bid $51.1 million last month for the right to negotiate with Matsuzaka. The Red Sox will pay that money to his Japanese team, the Seibu Lions, only if an agreement is reached.
If there is no deal, Matsuzaka's rights remain with the Lions and he cannot be offered to major league teams again until next November. He is not eligible to become a free agent in Japan until after the 2008 season,
Lucchino and general manager Theo Epstein showed up unannounced in California on Monday for face-to-face talks with Matsuzaka's agent, Scott Boras.
Red Sox officials left the building where Boras' offices are located shortly before 7 p.m. EST Tuesday, returned about four hours later and stayed for 40 minutes before leaving again.
The Red Sox had said they would present their second offer at the meeting. The large amount bid by the Red Sox for Matsuzaka's rights complicated negotiations. Boras said it shouldn't cause the team to decrease the salary he thinks his client deserves.
"Free agent pitchers who are 26 and have Matsuzaka-like ability receive salaries in excess of $100 million over five or six years in free agency," Boras said at a news conference Monday night.
Epstein agreed Matsuzaka is worth $100 million, but his calculations include the posting fee.
"That magnitude is certainly the right ballpark for the commitment of the ballclub," Epstein said
Matsuzaka has a 108-60 career 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.
Late Monday, Henry had sounded miffed about Boras' approach.
"We're on Scott Boras' doorstep because he hasn't negotiated with us thus far and we're taking the fight directly to him, the fight to have a negotiation here," he said during a conference call.