Matsuzaka: A Different Approach Part 1

Matsuzaka, Different Approach Part 1 of 2

Every other media outlet is using examples of Nomo, Irabu, Ichiro, and both Matsui’s. Are these relevant points? You betcha. But there’s no point in reading the same examples time and time again, so I’m not going to rehash the same old argument here. What we are going to do is look back to a similar instance of risk vs reward for a player that is unproven at the MLB level. The following happened after the 1996 draft:

”Because of four clubs’ violations to Rule 4 (E) of the PBA, which requires that teams make a formal uniform contract offer to every pick within 15 days of the draft, Major League Baseball granted several premium players free agency and touched off unprecedented bidding wars for their services.” (Baseball America)

In actuality four premium players were granted free agency. These players were still covered under baseball’s draft salary structure (approx max $300,000 per season if under three years experience), but due to this infraction there was no limit on signing bonus’ and they could negotiate with any MLB team.

Let the bidding begin! To put things into perspective, number one overall pick Kris Benson received a signing bonus of only $2,000,000, and top 1996 superstars Frank Thomas and Ken Griffey Jr. were making under $8,000,000 a season. Keep in mind, these contracts really only give a team three years of major league service from the players (at an additional $900,000 in salary.) Here are the results:



Travis Lee (2nd overall)


John Patterson (5th overall)


Matt White (7th overall)


Bobby Seay (12th overall)


What a group. Outside of Patterson’s 2005 season, and maybe Lee’s 2001, basically every season put together by this group is sup-par (and that’s if they have even played in the majors, as White has just over 7 IP in his career.) But the success or lack thereof of this group should really have no basis on Matsuzaka, I just found it rather interesting to see close to $30 million thrown at a group that, for the most part, flopped.

The difference between the above group and Matsuzaka is pretty obvious; he’s played in the Japanese Professional League & has a multitude of international experience. The above players came out of high school or college. Yet both groups are similar in the fact that they had yet to play a major league game.

What conclusion can we draw from this? I’m not 100% sure what it would be. It may be that we can’t draw a logical conclusion, but we can use this as an example and at least it acts as a different viewpoint from the endless Irabu type examples. But, at the very least, it appears that teams are willing to spend legitimate, proven free agent money to land a hot commodity, regardless of MLB experience.

On Friday, we’ll have Part Two, where I’ll tackle the posting process of Matsuzaka.


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5 replies on “Matsuzaka: A Different Approach Part 1”
  1. says: Callum

    Great article. I forgot about those guys/bums. I don’t project Matsuzaka being as bad as the “fat toad” Irabu, but I don’t know if he is a legitimate #1 starter or not. Only time will tell and I can’t wait to see it play itself out.

  2. says: Kman

    They received large bonus’ but they were regular picks, not free agents. That’s what makes the 1996 draft interesting, the unproven players getting real MLB salaries, which is something that is going to happen with Matsuzaka.

  3. says: Callum

    Another thing to consider is the possibility that Matsuzaka still may not play in a Major League uniform next season. With the posting system the way it is, Matsuzaka’s agent – the ever slimey Scott Boras – is only able to negotiate with a single team. Should they fail to reach a deal, Matsuzaka will return to Seibu for another season. At the end of that season he will be a bona fide free agent and will be able to negotiate with all 30 teams, creating a bidding war to get a better contract and more money to line Boras’ pockets. That is, if he has a successful campaign with Seibu and there is no reason that he shouldn’t.

  4. says: Kman

    Hey, your stealing my thunder here! What about part 2? But seriously, I will touch on this. Let’s just say this, I’d be shocked if he doesn’t play MLB ball next year.

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