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Waiting on Matsuzaka

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff  November 9, 2006 12:03 AM

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By now the Seibu Lions have likely been informed by major league baseball on the amount of the highest bid on Daisuke Matsuzaka among the handful of teams that submitted blind bids by 5 p.m. Wednesday.

All signs are the Red Sox are one of the teams that submitted sealed bids, along with the Yankees, Mets, Cubs, and Rangers. They have consistently been the teams mentioned in the hunt for the 26-year-old right-hander, who went 17-5 with a 2.13 ERA and 200 strikeouts for the Seibu Lions last season.

Yet even late Wednesday night, Sox general manager Theo Epstein declined comment on any aspect of where the Red Sox stand, per order of the commissioner's office, which has put a gag order on teams from discussing any aspect of the bidding process. Epstein would not answer if he knew what Boston's status was.

The Yankees were still seen as having the best chance of landing Matsuzaka, who has also expressed a fondness for playing for the Yankees. The highest bids could reach $20 million-$25 million. The Lions have until next Tuesday to indicate whether they've accepted the highest bid. And then Matsuzaka's agent Scott Boras is given 30 days to negotiate a deal with the highest bidding team.

The Sox are also said to be in on Yakult Swallows third baseman Akinori Iwamura. The bidding on him closes on Friday.

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