Boras believes posting needs tweaks
Matsuzaka's agent wants fee distribution process changed
BOSTON -- During his time as a powerful baseball agent, Scott Boras has seen just about everything. But he experienced quite a different thing over the past few weeks in negotiating a contract with the Red Sox for the services of Japanese star Daisuke Matsuzaka.
The one thing that was hard for Boras to get past -- and perhaps the reason the negotiations took so long -- was that the Seibu Lions got nearly as much during the posting process ($51.1 million) as his client will get over the life of his six-year contract. Matsuzaka will make a guaranteed $52 million, with escalator clauses that could bring it to $60 million.
Boras doesn't have a problem with the posting system in itself. He just thinks the way the posting fee gets distributed should undergo a drastic overhaul.
"This is an internationally curious negotiation," said Boras. "In my mind, the system needs to be this: If there is a posting application, so be it. But the money goes to the player, and then the clubs negotiate from that foundation and the player negotiates and then they reach a final number.
"Then a percentage of that number is then given to the franchise [in Japan]. That's how you truly negotiate those contracts, because then the club is truly paying the player whatever they choose to pay him. The cost of that is that you understand that the posting system is your choice. You're giving that team back from your total, and you get to make that decision. If they had a system like that, I'd say it would be much more manageable than building a barrier between the two parties, which this posting system does."
But under that system, would the teams in Japan still have the same incentive to post a prized player to the Major Leagues?
"I think for great players, you're still going to obtain sums of money that are great for them," Boras said. "Remember that it's a percentage of the whole. It just has to be limited to where this system can be representative of the teams' desire."
In the end, Boras might not have loved the process, but he essentially viewed it as a successful negotiation.
"My greatest concern through the process was that this young man and his abilities could transfer to his contract," said Boras.
Originally, there seemed to be a school of thought that Boras would want a shorter contract for Matsuzaka which would enable him to be a free agent after three or four years.
But in the end, he didn't mind signing off on the six-year deal.
"We had no reservation about the years," said Boras. "We have a young pitcher who will be a free agent at a young age. We want his family to spend a good number of years here in the States -- where they have a consistent place -- and having the ability to stay in one city for six years was frankly something we were very happy with. It allows him to know the league. It's not in any way a negative."
Matsuzaka's contract will break down thusly: He'll make a base salary of $6 million in 2007, $8 million for the next three years after that, and $10 million annually for the last two years of the deal. The contract also included a $2 million signing bonus.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.