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11.13.2006

For Make Benefit Glorious Wallet of Scott Boras 

Peter Gammons of ESPN reports today that the Boston Red Sox have submitted a $42 million winning bid in the Daisuke Matsuzaka posting. If you don't following the Japanese-league posting process, this means the Sox have won the right to negotiate exclusively with Matsuzaka and his agent Scott Boras. The $42 million goes to the Seibu Lions, Matsuzaka's team, only if they sign a contract. If they can't agree on a contract, Boston keeps its $42 million, and Matsuzaka -- whom many observers feel is the best starting pitcher on the free agent market -- goes back to Japan for at least another year.

Forty-two million clammeroos, just for the right to negotiate what could be a contract in the $50 million range? Wah-wah-wee-wah!

Even if Gammo's reportage is off, and the winning bid (to be announced officially tomorrow) is in the $30 million range, the import of this Japanese import is clear. The insane market for starting pitching will not abate. If Matt Morris were a free agent this year, he might get an annual average of $10 million.

More fallout: If the Sox win the Daisuke lottery, it leaves the Yankees even hungrier for free-agent starters. Their own rotation is dwindling, as they just traded backbencher Jaret Wright to Baltimore. That leaves them with Chien-Ming Wang, an aging but still good Mike Mussina (expected to sign a contract extension), and a verrrrrry creaky Randy Johnson as their rotation. Carl Pavano is a complete unknown, and double-A phenom Phil Hughes is...a double-A phenom. Now that Gary Sheffield's $13 million is off the books, the Yankees will have no compunction overspending for starting pitching.

What does this mean for the Giants? Unless they can wrangle a loyalty discount from Jason Schmidt, he's as good as gone. The price tag for the top-tier starters will be out of their range. About two weeks ago I predicted Schmidt would sign somewhere for 3 years, $40 mil plus an option. My new prediction: 3 years, $44 million, with a lucrative fourth-year option that can be triggered by durability.

Speaking of which, Aramis Ramirez has re-signed with the Cubbies for 5 years, $75 mil, which reportedly was a bit of a comfort-zone discount. The contract has effectively set a floor for the other top sluggers on the market. Look for Alfonso Soriano to get an annual average of as much as $20 mil a year. Carlos Lee and J.D. Drew easily could command an average of $15 mil.

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