As the Dodgers face a Sunday deadline to sign South Korean pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin, the team remains at odds with agent Scott Boras over just how much Ryu should be paid.
“I think all of us agree the guy is a No. 3 pitcher in the major leagues,” Boras said.
“It’s something that [Dodgers General Manager] Ned [Colletti] and I have to work out. But it is going to have to be done within the standards of what other teams have done with other international players.”
So far, so good. The Dodgers paid $25 million to his South Korean club for the right to negotiate with Ryu, and although they would not discuss the specifics of contract talks, they probably would pay him another $25 million to sign.
In 2006, the Boston Red Sox paid $51 million for the right to negotiate with Daisuke Matsuzaka and another $52 million to sign him to a six-year contract. Boras represented Matsuzaka.
“Past practice is the negotiations we had for Matsuzaka,” Boras said. “At that time, Matsuzaka got paid like he was a No. 3 pitcher in the big leagues.”
But, at that time, didn’t Boras bill Matsuzaka as a No. 1 starter?
“Not really,” Boras said. “Our evaluation was, we billed him along the lines of a [Jeff] Weaver or Gil Meche. That was the market for those No. 3s."
Weaver signed with the Seattle Mariners that winter for one year and $8.3 million. The Kansas City Royals signed Meche for five years and $55 million that winter, and General Manager Dayton Moore labeled him a potential No. 1 starter.
“He’s a guy who can anchor our pitching staff going forward,” Moore told mlb.com.
Granted, salaries have escalated since then, to the point where the Washington Nationals agreed this week to pay Dan Haren $13 million to be their fourth starter and the Angels agreed to pay Joe Blanton $15 million for two years to bring up the back of their rotation. So the Matsuzaka parallel might not be as relevant as the Dodgers apparently hope.
But back to our question: Didn’t Boras bill Matsuzaka as a No. 1 starter?
In this story explaining why the Red Sox would bid $51 million for the right to negotiate with Matsuzaka, who never had thrown a pitch in the major leagues, this is what Boras said: “It’s the value of a No. 1 starter.”
[UPDATED, 1:08 p.m.: Boras acknowledged he used the phrase “value of a No. 1 starter” but said that some of that value derived from the ability the Red Sox would have to market Matsuzaka internationally.
“It wasn’t just for the player’s abilities that they paid that money,” Boras said.]