Riches flow to Boras clients, as deals get better with agent

The Kickoff

December 15, 2006|By PETER SCHMUCK

All I want for Christmas is for Scott Boras to represent me the next time I'm looking for a job.

Baseball's uber-agent has done it again, securing a six-year, $52 million contract for Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka even though the 26-year-old right-hander has never thrown a pitch in the American major leagues and will cost the Boston Red Sox a total of more than $103 million if you include the posting fee they now must pay to the Seibu Lions of the Japanese Pacific League.

That means that Matsuzaka will earn an average of $8.667 million per year (plus incentives and possible salary escalators), and the Red Sox will pay what works out to an average of $17 million per year (including the posting fee) to add another premier starter to a rotation that already includes Curt Schilling and Josh Beckett.

There's more, of course. Boras told ESPN.com that the deal calls for "a litany of personal comforts," which reportedly include a massage therapist, a physical therapist, a personal assistant and an interpreter. In other words, Matsuzaka won't even have to make his own friends when he arrives at spring training.

The Red Sox also have agreed to pay for up to 90 flights over the life of the contract and provide special transportation and accommodations for Matsuzaka's wife, making this deal similar to the controversial $105 million package the Los Angeles Dodgers gave Kevin Brown, a client of Boras', in 1998.

I don't want to be negative, but when this gets back to the rest of the team, Manny Ramirez is probably going to ask to be traded.

Boras is the master of the megadeal, though this one appeared to have complications that were beyond his control. The price of the negotiating rights and the lack of other bidders clearly limited what he could get for Matsuzaka, so you have to admire his ability to bring together a package that made sense to everyone involved. I heard that the Red Sox drew the line at a personal chef and Terry Francona's first grandchild, but Matsuzaka looked quite pleased at his Fenway Park news conference late yesterday afternoon.

Red Sox officials were all smiles, too, which belied what a massive gamble they've taken on a player who has yet to prove that he can be a star in the major leagues. The scouting reports were great. The guy was 17-5 last season. Several Asian pitchers have come over here and performed very well. Some others, however, have not.

The Yankees made an expensive mistake when they acquired the rights to sign Hideki Irabu, who lasted three volatile years in New York before he was undone by inconsistency and attitude problems. Things got so bad that frustrated owner George Steinbrenner once publicly referred to him as "a fat toad."

Still, that didn't keep the Yankees from bidding more than $30 million for the rights to Matsuzaka. They've been very satisfied with the performance of Japanese outfielder Hideki Matsui and struck gold this year with Taiwanese pitcher Chien-Ming Wang, who won 19 games in his second major league season.

There was speculation that the Red Sox blew everybody away in the rights bidding to prevent the Yankees from getting Matsuzaka, especially when contract negotiations seemed to bog down last week. Obviously, the Red Sox really wanted him and he really wanted the Red Sox, because he probably could have gotten a lot more money and chosen the destination if he had waited to come over as a free agent in a couple of years.

I'm not surprised that the deal got done, because Boras knows the value of a bird in the hand. He and Sox officials found ways to sweeten the pot and create an offer that was hard to refuse.

Say what you want about the guy. He gets the best possible deal for his clients, which is why I've left several messages with his answering service seeking representation.

Don't know about you, but I could use a litany of personal comforts. I have teenagers, so the interpreter would come in handy, but I'm not sure the wife will stand for a full-time personal massage therapist, unless his name is Sven.

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

The Peter Schmuck Show airs on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon on Saturdays.

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