At the rate the conversations between the Red Sox and Scott Boras are progress, the former’s deadline to sign Daisuke Matsuzaka will have passed just in time to find out the Mets or Rangers have signed Barry Zito. From the Boston Globe’s Gordon Edes.
Talks over the weekend moved at a glacial pace, with the Sox, as of Sunday night, still awaiting the semblance of a counter-offer from Boras to the comprehensive offer they made at least 10 days ago. Boras had pledged late last week that the Sox would hear directly from Matsuzaka, who flew in from Tokyo on Saturday, but there was no public indication that has yet to happen. Indeed, frustrated Sox officials were privately wondering whether the player was aware that Boras so far had not made a counter-offer.
But regardless of whether Boras has put a deal on the table that the pitcher would accept, he has both publicly and privately let it be known to the Sox that he expects the 26-year-old Matsuzaka to be compensated like an elite free agent. The Red Sox, meanwhile, have argued that the reason they were willing to post $51.1 million to Matsuzaka’s Japanese team, the Seibu Lions, for the right to negotiate with the pitcher is because they would own controlling rights over him for six years.
“The one thing that is true and does separate D-Mat from most all players is that he brings with him an entire (country) of 127 million people to a franchise, an identity to a franchise. When you do that you’re bringing a value that is above the service value that a player brings. That’s certainly something we can approach outside the contract through a partnership…to talk about how we share in that licensing value, brings a brand of a team and a player and an image to a country of 127 million people.
“The fact that the Sox bid $51 million for Matsuzaka should not impact on how he is compensated, Boras said. “If all major league teams bid one dollar, this issue would not be an issue,” he said. “The fact of the matter is, what major league teams choose to bid to acquire the rights to a player does not in any way impact on the two rights values–one, the service rights, and the licensing rights he brings to a franchise. There is a viewpoint that this is an acquisition price. What it really is is a competitive exclusion price. Often when you choose to exclude all other franchises from the rights to a player, that is no different than privatizing a particular trade mart license, purchasing land, all those other things that you gain ownership for a reason. but it doesn’t affect really what equitably is the second step, and that is, (the rights value).”
It’s interesting that Boras brings up the matter of licensing value, which a number of ESPN radio commentators have continually cited when explaining why the Red Sox would pay $51 million just for the negotitating rights to a Japanese pitcher.
While I’m sure Boston’s ownership likes the notion of their club’s name and logo achieving iconic status in other territories, surely Boras and the news media that repeat his assertions are aware that John Henry receives no more income from Red Sox merchandise than does George Steinbrenner, with the exception of whatever swag the Red Sox peddle themselves. All 30 MLB clubs share equally in the licensing windfall, and while Boras might be correct in presuming D-Mat would shift more Boston merchandise in Japan, that’s not nearly reason enough for the Red Sox to meet his demands.