Daisuke Matsuzaka, the MVP of the World Baseball Classic and the consensus best pitcher in Japan, was officially posted by his Japanese team, the Seibu Lions, the first step required before Matsuzaka can play in the major leagues.
Any teams interested in Matsuzaka must submit their bids by next Wednesday at 5 p.m. The Lions will be informed of the winning bid, but will not be informed of which team submitted the highest bid. The Lions will then have until Nov. 14 to accept.
There is speculation that the bidding could go as high as $20 million or $30 million. The Seattle Mariners, who have Japanese stars in Ichiro Suzuki and Kenji Johjima, have already said they will not bid for Matsuzaka, because they expect the bidding to be beyond what they’re willing to pay.
The Red Sox have extensively scouted Matsuzaka, a player that is well known to Craig Shipley, who oversees the team’s international scouting operations, and there are indications that Matsuzaka would have interest in playing for the Sox, though at a press conference he held this week, he waxed poetic about the Yankees, who of course employ former Japanese HR king Hideki Matsui.
Theo Epstein would not comment today on whether the Sox will submit a bid, citing club policy not to comment on prospective acquisitions. And by now, Sox fans are well aware that the Sox strategy is not to exceed the value they’ve assigned a player, which is why Derek Lowe, Pedro Martinez and Johnny Damon left as free agents.
How much do they value Matsuzaka? We should learn soon.