Daisuke Matsuzaka, posting, and the M’s

DMZ · October 8, 2006 at 2:25 pm · Filed Under General baseball, Mariners 

Assume that he posts, for purposes of this discussion. I’m going to start re-posting “How Posting Works” almost entirely

(prelude: player asks their team to be posted, and team decides they’ll do so)

1. Japanese team notifies the Japanese Commissioner’s Office that they’ll let Ichiro be posted.
2. Japanese Commissioner notifies MLB
3. MLB notifies all teams that Ichiro is available
4. Teams have four days to submit a bid. The bid is how much they’ll pay the team not for the player but the chance to negotiate a contract with the player. The Mariners submit a bid of $12.5m.
5. The Japanese team, Orix, is told only of the highest bid amount. Here, it’s the Mariners at $12.5m.
6. The Japanese team has four days to accept or reject the winning bid
7. They make a decision:
If they accept, the winning team has 30 days to agree to a contract with the posted player
If they reject, no deal. They can’t then shop him to the second-highest bidding team or anything.

In Ichiro’s case, Orix accepts the posting offer, and the Mariners begin discussing contract terms with Ichiro.

8. Then the player and the winning team negotiate, and one of two things happens:
If the winning team and player can come to an agreement, the player signs and reports to spring training next season, and the Japanese team gets the posting fee. The Mariners and Ichiro agreed, and he signed his original 2001 deal.

If the winning team and player can’t come to an agreement, the player returns to the team that controls his rights, and the Japanese team does not get the posting fee. The player then waits for next year or to become a normal FA, when he can go where he wants

Dave’s 2006 Offseason Plan had the M’s paying $25m to win the bidding war, and signing him to a 3y, $30m deal.

There are a couple of issues that come into play now:
– The Yankees may be gripped with post-season insanity and capable of doing anything
– Teams sometimes handle posting fees as if it’s not real money

The M’s for years made a strange-seeming argument that for tax reasons, posting fees and contracts for players who’d never been in affiliated baseball (Japanese free agents or posted players, Cuban refugees) didn’t count against payroll or player development budgets. They’ve changed their tune on this recently.
– And yet, it is real money
Ownership groups don’t look at a $30m expenditure and shrug because it’s a special expenditure
– Posting fees aren’t currently, so far as I can tell, counted in any way against the salary cap
This makes chasing Japanese players even more interesting for a team like the Yankees. From their view, instead of paying top dollar for a free-agent pitcher that counts against the cap, they pay about the same amount of total money and get a top pitcher who only counts a little against the cap.
– That could change with the new collective bargaining agreement
Domestic players must regard those posting fees with a shake of the head. The player doesn’t get anything of it, and the winning team’s leverage over the posted player reduces their salary, which hurts other players (in citing comperables during salary negotiations) and the union (less money in dues). They may also believe that the money would otherwise be spent on players, making them all richer. Teams may not mind, either, in the “stop us before we pay free agents too much” way they cry for brakes on the cost of labor.
If this does get into the new agreement and posting fees count against the cap, pro-rated or however, it’ll be a huge blow to the Yankees chances, since they’re already over the cap and are facing escalating taxes each year.

When Ichiro posted, teams tried to put together fairly rational bids, with the M’s willing to ensure they topped everyone.

If Matsuzaka posts, it’s going to get a little crazy. Say you think Matsuzaka is worth $12m/year, which is top-tier free agent pitcher money, and your best guess is that he’s willing to sign for $10m/year over 3y if you win the bid. If you’re an entirely rational team, your bid is $6m.

If Matsuzaka posts, I anticipate every team who needs a pitcher will bid something, even knowing they’ll lose. If you put in a low-ball bid and lose, no harm. If you luck out and win, woo-hoo! You get to see what he wants, maybe even low-ball him yourself, and if he goes back to his team, you’re not out a penny. Bidding a couple of million dollars is like a free lottery ticket.

Figure that there will be a whole bunch of teams that bid $5-$6m. It doesn’t even matter who they are. A serious bid to win has to be at least $10m. The problem then is that you’ll have at leaset two teams willing to spend much, much more than that:
– Mariners (Japanese connection, rich, desperate for pitching, willing to bid on posting players)
– Yankees (richer, possibly more desperate, also willing to bid)

They’re going to consider how much it’s worth to win, how much it’s worth to deny him to another team, and what other things they could put the money to.

$25m? $30m? We’ve heard those floated already, as some of the process plays out in the media. You’re already starting to see teams float numbers and watch for responses and leaks from other organizations. Every team that wants to win is going to play this game as well as it can: the Yankees have a massive press advantage and can control the story (“Yankees to bid $30m says team official”), while the M’s might be able to play that game in Japan (“Matsuzaka to demand 5y/$55m deal”).

While it’s worth paying some attention to if you’re interested in where he’ll end up, much of what comes out after the World Series up to the submission of bids is going to be disinformation and manipulation, as teams try to get each other to lower their bids, letting the winner get a bargain, or to raise their bids, needlessly tying their team’s resources up (if you can get the Yankees to bid $40m when the next-highest bid is $10m, that’s good, unless he rules).

And then there’s the winner’s curse.

The only thing we can know for certain is that if he posts, it’s going to get crazy.


40 Responses to “Daisuke Matsuzaka, posting, and the M’s”

  1. IdahoInvader on October 8th, 2006 2:39 pm

    Do you think it will indeed come down to the M’s and Yankees? And if so, what’s your call? You think Seattle or NY ends up with him?

  2. Coach Owens on October 8th, 2006 2:45 pm

    But remember the Yankees also passed on Ichiro. So “anything” might mean Zito and Schmidt.

  3. Emerald on October 8th, 2006 2:56 pm

    I don’t know if I’m totally sold on Daisuke Matsuzaka. He seems like a pretty good pitcher from what we’ve all heard. I’ve seen what he’s done in the Japan League the last few years, but I haven’t found any significant stat research. He seems to be pretty good for 200+ innings, and a sub 3 ERA. For all we know, he could suck huge in MLB. Is there anything in the works on Matsuzaka?

  4. Ralph Malph on October 8th, 2006 2:57 pm

    Has anyone done an analysis of where the Yankees are for next year in terms of players under contract, payroll, needs, etc.? I would think that plays a big role in this question.

    It kind of looks like they need pitching almost as much as the M’s. Besides Wang they have a bunch of huge question marks for 2007.

  5. dw on October 8th, 2006 3:06 pm

    I’m starting to wonder if Steinbrenner won’t spend as much this offseason than before. The $25M albatross that is A-Rod has shown that money != winning.

    OTOH, the Yanks are in desperate need of pitching. Randy Johnson is breaking down. Jaret Wright has been no better than a #5 starter. Pavano is likely never going to throw another pitch in pinstripes. If I were the Yanks, I’d look to using A-Rod to extract two proven mid-rotation guys out of a team and worry less about signing Zito and Schmidt.

    They won’t, of course. George will just raise the payroll to $250M.

  6. Bobby Valentine's Porn Mustache on October 8th, 2006 3:09 pm

    Do you think Boston will be a factor? Their pitching wasn’t great this year, and they’ll also want to keep Matsuzaka out of the Yankees’ hands.

  7. Dave on October 8th, 2006 3:13 pm

    Yes, I have a post on Matsuzaka in the queue. It will be up at some point this month.

  8. toshi on October 8th, 2006 3:45 pm

    Here is Matsuzaka’s stat from 1999-2005:


  9. Evan on October 8th, 2006 3:54 pm

    5. The Japanese team, Orix, is informed of the highest bidder, the Mariners

    This isn’t strictly accurate, Derek. The posting team is notified of the winning bid, and is given four days to accept or reject it. But they are not told which team made that bid until they accept it. They have to make the decision to accept or reject the winning bid based solely on the size of the bid.

  10. jackson on October 8th, 2006 3:56 pm

    What’s to stop someone say Oakland from bidding $50 million and then not really negotiate in good faith. IE they win the posting and offer a 6yr/10M contact. Matsuzaka says no, they throw their hands up and he can’t come. Sort of the monkey wretching of the posting process.

  11. darrylzero on October 8th, 2006 4:04 pm

    Yeah but what would that really get Oakland? I guess if they’re really afraid of the Mariners getting him, ok, though I’m not sure your package is sure-to-be-rejected or anything. But he’ll be here in another year on a free agent contract either way (by here I just mean MLB), so it’s not like they’ve really kept him out of anybodies hands in particular. Would they rather the Yankees had him? Who are they more likely to have to beat in the playoffs?

  12. Deanna on October 8th, 2006 4:10 pm

    I’m still wondering what Matsuzaka’s worth to Seibu next year. They’d be out of the postseason right now if not for him (grrrr), and might not have even been in it in the first place. A posting bid is going to have to be ridiculous.

    2 – despite that I think the old stat calibrations might not work as well as they used to, due to the NPB hemorrhaging all of its good players to the MLB, I think he’ll probably do just fine over here, he’s got comparable stuff to most MLB pitchers. On the other hand, he could turn out like Kazuhisa Ishii. Who knows?

    9 – that would be pretty funny, but just imagine if the player decided to accept it just to spite the team? (oddly, 6yr/10m is not that far off what a lot of star Japanese players make right now, though, don’t forget Johjima was making about $4.2 million his last year in Japan and he was the highest-paid Japanese player) It seems like it’d be a pretty dumb thing for a team to do.

  13. DMZ on October 8th, 2006 4:12 pm

    I’ll clarify that, I messed up trying to balance walking through the example (showing the M’s bid won) against the process explanation.

  14. Oly Rainiers Fan on October 8th, 2006 4:15 pm

    #9; Nothing, unless they get caught doing it. There’s a catch-all clause in the agreement between the Japanese league and MLB that talks about how the process should not be ‘undermined in any manner’ and must be ‘consistent with the best interests of baseball’. So if a team tried what you suggested, there’d have to be some repercussions. (I don’t know of what kind).

    For anyone interested, the agreement is available in English at this URL: English agreement 2001.

    Granted, it’s a few years old but changes very little from year to year.

    As to Derek’s point about how domestic players and/or union could get pissed about the posting money involved and/or how the Japanese player gets none of it – we’re only talking about a very small number of players. There is talk about the Japanese baseball players union getting a little irate about it, and possibly challenging the agreement/process on antitrust grounds in Japan since it limits a player’s choices and bargaining power (much like the draft does here).

    I don’t know man, I think the Yankees ARE going to go crazy.

    Larry Stone’s article today said the Ms were willing to up the payroll to $95 mill for next year, possibly higher as long as that first number stayed ‘9’. Given what Dave detailed in his offseason plan post as to the salaries we’re already stuck with, and our needs for next year (and given that the Ms are highly unlikely to a) think very far outside the box or b) work as hard to make successive and interconnected deals as Dave wishes…. well, can we afford Matsuzaka? What’s the max we could pay him and still manage to cobble together a 5 man rotation?

  15. DMZ on October 8th, 2006 4:16 pm

    One of the reasons that teams don’t submit bad-faith bids is that it would severely piss off the Commish, who manages that relationship with NPB. If a team made a tremendous posting bid and then just farted around, it would make MLB look terrible and endanger the posting process itself.

    I don’t know what he’d do, but he could fine the team the posting fee, screwing them entirely, and ban them from bidding on posted players for x years. I’ve always assumed that Selig’s had this chat, or put a sufficently veiled threat in a memo to teams.

  16. pinball1973 on October 8th, 2006 4:31 pm

    9. It would be a pretty stupid strategy. The posting amount would be known, so if any team then offered a bag o’ peanuts contract out of line with the player’s previous established worth they would immediately be put under investigation and likely heavily penalized. Entirely dumb, while gaining nothing more than a negative.

    11. You are right in that nothing is “for sure,” since even jumps from NL to AL (even jumps from anywhere to SafeCo, alas!) are fraught with uncertainty. For which I thanks the Ghosts of Baseball Past, Present and Future.
    Daisuke is a very safe bet – if still a bet – because he has been worked to death his entire life (!) and still maintains great velocity without serious injuries. He is smart, but not arrogant, and always looking to improve his game: I would credit him with four solid pitches at the moment, great location, and great defense as well. Very, very importantly, he enjoys baseball still and makes every game exciting.

    I have doubts he will be in MLB next year, and fear that Yankee money might claim him (and that, besides my distaste for the current Merc-Yankees, they are exactly the worst team for him).
    It will be fun to watch the next set of Japanese players work out whether and how to get a shot at the final level of baseball this winter. Ther are many fine players at the prime posting year, or becoming free agents.

  17. Oly Rainiers Fan on October 8th, 2006 4:37 pm

    #12 (Deanna): but you know that’d never happen. it’d be a rare Japanese player indeed that would do something to ‘spite’ his team, and also, I’m not sure about Matsuzaka’s perceived status in Japan as compared to Ichiro, Matsui, Johjima but wouldn’t you have to figure that just from a pride point-of-view, he’d want at least a comparable (and probably a better, given inflation and desperation for pitching specifically) contract as those guys who preceded him got? Even if the money was comparatively better than what he’d get in Japan, I’m thinking money vs pride may have a different outcome there than it would here (here, money would win out in a heartbeat).

    You’re FAR more familiar with Japanese cultural issues than I, but I’m thinking ‘spite’ not a big motivator and ‘pride’ as well as ‘loyalty’ are huge motivators.

  18. Oly Rainiers Fan on October 8th, 2006 4:39 pm

    Oh, and, re #9 – what’s to prevent Oakland from doing that? Om, they have no money. If they did, people wouldn’t be giving Billy Beane anywhere NEAR the credit he gets.

    OTOH, what’s to prevent the Red Sox if they perceive the Yankees as going hard after him? It’s only the teams with the big money that are going to be able to really play in this particular sweepstakes game.

  19. Deanna on October 8th, 2006 5:11 pm

    17 – I’m not sure I was saying a player WOULD do that, just that they COULD. It’s just a dumb thing for a team to do.

    As for Matsuzaka’s status, he’s been their Golden Boy ever since the 1998 Koshien tournament. I’d actually say he’s way better-known than Johjima, though that’s based on the perceptions of most people I talked to randomly at games over there that didn’t seem that familiar with Johjima but asked me what I thought about Matsuzaka coming to the MLB.

  20. noel on October 8th, 2006 5:35 pm

    DMZ, is there a time limit for the negotiation between the player and the winning team?

  21. LB on October 8th, 2006 5:41 pm

    #4: Has anyone done an analysis of where the Yankees are for next year in terms of players under contract, payroll, needs, etc.? I would think that plays a big role in this question.

    Yes, here.

    As a first approximation, just assume the Yankees have infinite money for payroll until proven otherwise.

  22. LB on October 8th, 2006 5:43 pm

    #20: Answered in the initial post: If they accept, the winning team has 30 days to agree to a contract with the posted player

  23. rd on October 8th, 2006 5:44 pm

    Hopefully the Boss still feels burned by Irabu and won’t go too hard after another Japanese pitcher.

  24. msb on October 8th, 2006 6:07 pm

    Oh, and, re #9 – what’s to prevent Oakland from doing that? Om, they have no money.

    after the new group bought the team in ’05, the A’s ranked third richest among baseball ownership groups. That doesn’t mean they will spend money, but they have money they could spend.

  25. DMZ on October 8th, 2006 6:27 pm

    Even before that, Schott had money he could have spent. He just didn’t. We can aruge over whether or not that was a wise business decision, but he made a decision not to invest in payroll.

  26. Ralph Malph on October 8th, 2006 6:49 pm

    Suppose Oakland made a $50M posting bid and then offered Matsuzaka, say, 4 years at the major league minimum. What’s to stop Matsuzaka and his Japanese team from cutting a deal under which he accepts the bargain offer and the Japanese team throws half of the $50M his way out of the low posting bid? I would think that possibility would deter any American team from doing that.

  27. Ralph Malph on October 8th, 2006 6:50 pm

    …I mean high posting bid.

  28. John D. on October 8th, 2006 6:55 pm

    Re: IRABU (See # 23) – (I realize that we’re talkig about different situations.) IIRC, Irabu said he would play only for the Yankees. AFAIK, Matsuzaka has made no such proclamation. Is it possible that foreign players (free agents and postees) are no longer so anxious to play for the Yankees?

  29. msb on October 8th, 2006 7:21 pm

    I thnk it is more that it would be impolite (let alone impractical) to maske such a statement; he wants to play in the US (he’s wanted to for several years) and he will have no choice in who his chance will be with–

  30. Typical Idiot Fan on October 8th, 2006 8:40 pm

    The way I look at things:

    Matsuzaka is #1 priority. If he isn’t signed, then whatever we do this offseason is not going to work. If we don’t get him, but still get Schmidt (or whatever their target pitcher is), then that wont be enough to put us over the hump. Aside from doing something spectacular in trades, there’s not enough in the free agent market to make us huge. Our best case secnario hinges on this, because the scenarios without getting him are pretty bleak.

  31. shortbus on October 8th, 2006 8:59 pm

    The $13.1 million question:

    I’ve always thought the ammount bid by the M’s was suspicious. Why bid $13.1 million and not $13 million or $13.5? This may be a combination of wishful thinking and conspiracy-theory, but is it at least possible that the owner of Nintendo is getting inside information from the Japanese side on the bids? Would it not be the “Japanese” thing to do to help the only Japanese owner acquire the top Japanese players…especially if he’s willing to outbid everyone else?

  32. DMZ on October 8th, 2006 9:22 pm


  33. LB on October 9th, 2006 1:09 am

    #33: Geez, I thought I had this link coded right:


  34. mln on October 9th, 2006 2:03 am

    How Daisuke Matsuzaka will do in the USA is yet to be seen, but he is definately better than Hideki Irabu. Irabu was essentially a two- pitch pitcher with inconsistent command–a hard but straight fastball and a split finger, though he would later add a sinker and curve as show pitches.

    Matsuzaka, as I understand it, can throw 4 pitches with good command, understands how to pitch, and most importantly, has mental toughness.

    I think he will probably end up being the best Japanese starter to pitch in the major leagues so far–better than Hideo Nomo who was a sensation in his first 2 seasons and then tailed off into being an average starter the rest of his career.

  35. msb on October 9th, 2006 8:06 am

    I’ve always thought the ammount bid by the M’s was suspicious. Why bid $13.1 million and not $13 million or $13.5? This may be a combination of wishful thinking and conspiracy-theory, but is it at least possible that the owner of Nintendo is getting inside information from the Japanese side on the bids?

    well, as the Mariner bid was $3M+ over the next highest bid (the Dodgers), I don’t think so.

  36. frenchonion on October 9th, 2006 10:22 am

    Matsuzaka’s agent is Scott Boras.

    I’m guessing $48 million/4 years, at least. If it came out to something like $70 million/5 years I would probably raise my eyebrows a little, but I wouldn’t be shocked.

    Boras has shown, repeatedly, that he’d be willing to hold a player out a year if he thinks it would make for more favorable bargaining position. In this case, if he makes some crazy demands this year, then next Matsuzaka can negotiate with *every* team. A sure win for Boras.

    In any event, I think that less than $8-10 million per year is a total pipedream.

  37. mikelb420 on October 9th, 2006 11:12 am

    I haven’t seen anyone discuss yet was Matsuzaka means to the M’s as far as their marketing goes. Does anyone know what kind of revenue they generate from broadcast rights there? With Jojima, Matsuzaka, and Ichiro up the middle, to go with Japanese ownership, I got to think they become the Yankees/Cowboys of Japan (i.e. Americas Team)

    (and I know that the Braves, at least used to call themselves that, but we know who the media really loves)

  38. Herb R on October 9th, 2006 11:12 am

    Though I hate to go without him for 2007, I almost wish he wasn’t posted this year, because I fear the Yanks will outbid us. OTOH, if he’s a FA next year, I think he’ll look at the M’s and the NYY and decide he’ll be more comfortable here. Heck, he’s only 25; he can get that nine-figure contract from the Yanks as a free agent later.

    Oh, you say his agent is Scott Boras? Never mind.

  39. mikelb420 on October 9th, 2006 11:14 am

    sorry, that should be “WHAT Matsuzaka means”

  40. VaBeachMarinersFan on October 9th, 2006 3:28 pm

    #31. It’s a sealed process run by MLB. The Japanese have no idea what the winning bid is until Selig tells them, therefore we don’t have an inside track.

    It’s pretty much laid out for you in steps 4, 5, and 6 in Derek’s post.

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