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Zero hour approaches

Posted by Gordon Edes, Globe Staff  December 12, 2006 08:42 PM

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Here's what we know at this point. The sides are meeting -- Daisuke Matsuzaka was not present, according to a source with first-hand knowledge of the negotiations. In some ways, that's not a surprise. It's rare for a player to sit in on contract negotiations, although with Matsuzaka having had so little contact with the Sox, the Sox had hoped to get at least some feeling for what the player knows or doesn't know about their intentions.

Theo Epstein said late last night he would be making another offer, one of "considerable magnitude." There have been a lot of guesses what the Sox have placed on the table -- the only thing we can say with absolute certainty is that it eclipses the three-year, $21 million package the Yankees gave Japanese home run king Hideki Matsui.

Epstein said the Sox offer to Matsuzaka was the largest ever given to a Japanese player in his initial contract in the big leagues. The best guess here is that the deal runs for at least five years, so that the Sox can amortize the $51.1 million posting bid in that time. If I had to guess I'd say the total guaranteed money in the Sox proposal is in the $40 million range, with performance bonuses that could make it worth considerably more.

But that's purely a guess. How long will the sides talk? My source said that it's possible they'll talk right up until John Henry's plane leaves for Boston tomorrow morning.

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