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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Boston Red Sox - Red Sox have more competition than ever - The Boston Globe

This week’s Boston Globe Sunday baseball column.

Jim Furtado Posted: December 18, 2011 at 02:32 PM | 43 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: blue jays, braves, mets, miami, nationals, orioles, phillies, rangers, rays, red sox, yankees

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   1. TVerik, who wonders what the hell is "Ansky" Posted: December 18, 2011 at 03:27 PM (#4018869)
All indications are that Darvish is more adaptable to the major leagues than Dice-K was.


What indications are these? Is this just wishcasting?
   2. Greg K Posted: December 18, 2011 at 03:35 PM (#4018871)
He probably means "Darvish is better than DiceK", which is obvious to anyone who looks at NPB stats, but he wants to frame it in terms that make it sound like he has some inside information on the process of changing leagues.
   3. Tripon Posted: December 18, 2011 at 03:43 PM (#4018875)
It was rumored that Darvish had hoped to be posted by one of the big-market teams such as Boston, New York, LA, or Chicago. Maybe even Texas. But if it’s Toronto, would Darvish balk at signing a contract?


Toronto's is Canada's biggest city, and the city proper holds 2.5 million people, while the surrounding area holds 5 million. That's bigger than Boston, or Chicago.

Or is 'big market' is what Nick Cafardo want it to mean?
   4. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: December 18, 2011 at 03:49 PM (#4018876)
Well, Sapporo proper has a population of 1.9 million, FWIW.

It was also rumored that Darvish was hoping that a west coast team would win the bidding.

If Toronto or whoever doesn't float his boat, he could always just play two more years in Japan and become a free agent.
   5. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 18, 2011 at 04:01 PM (#4018877)
Toronto's is Canada's biggest city, and the city proper holds 2.5 million people, while the surrounding area holds 5 million. That's bigger than Boston, or Chicago.
While the Toronto area is somewhat larger than the Boston area - though it depends a bit on measurement - it's definitely smaller than Chicago. There are about 9 million people in the greater Chicago metro area.

Toronto's a real city, no question. If Darvish is worried about being signed by a team that isn't in a real city, Toronto should be fine by him. (Texas, though...) If he was hoping to be signed by a perennial contender, Toronto will have to sell him on the club having a good plan and good funding to make that happen.

It's generally my position that our reporting of Darvish's feelings is based on nothing but third-hand speculation, and until there's an announced posting fee and ongoing salary negotiations, we should just ignore all that speculation.
   6. Random Transaction Generator Posted: December 18, 2011 at 04:03 PM (#4018878)
Is there a rule that says Toronto has to make a fair-market contract offer to Darvish?
Could they submit a ridiculous posting fee (say, $75million) and then low-ball Darvish?
If he obviously didn't want to sign the contract, then Toronto would be off the hook for the posting bid, right?

Wouldn't this be a (dirty) way to make sure no other team in the AL (or majors) got their hands on Darvish?
   7. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 18, 2011 at 04:09 PM (#4018883)
Is there a rule that says Toronto has to make a fair-market contract offer to Darvish?
If MLB and NPB adjudge the negotiating team to have behaved in bad faith, they can award negotiating rights to the 2nd place club.

This was gone over (and over and over and over) during the DiceK chronicles. What's actually happening is that teams think Yu Darvish has frontline starter stuff and projections, and they're trying to acquire good baseball players in order to win baseball games. These double-bankshot theories are not only bizarrely open to unethical behavior, but also simply incorrect.
   8. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: December 18, 2011 at 04:10 PM (#4018885)
The only rule is that they have to negotiate in good faith. Good luck proving that anyone didn't meet that standard. He's not a free agent -- the team that wins the posting has exclusive rights -- so "fair-market" is kind of an irrelevant concept here. You could argue that Darvish is more or less a glorified #1 draft pick (before the new slotting rules of course), and that offering him Strassburg's contract would be eminently fair.
   9. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: December 18, 2011 at 04:10 PM (#4018886)
Is there a rule that says Toronto has to make a fair-market contract offer to Darvish?
Could they submit a ridiculous posting fee (say, $75million) and then low-ball Darvish?
If he obviously didn't want to sign the contract, then Toronto would be off the hook for the posting bid, right?


They have to negotiate in "good faith.". This theory got floated a bit during the Daisuke negotiations that the Sox won the bid just to keep him away from the Yankees but weren't serious about signing him. If they don't make a fair offer Selig can assign the second place bid the rights (presumably Nippon Ham would have the right to reject this lesser bid).

Of course the catch on this is that Selig is the one identifying a "fair offer" and he is unlikely to set a precedent that says teams should spend more money. As a practical matter an approximate 1:1 bid:salary ratio has been established in recent years so as long as Toronto, if they truly won the bid, stays close to that ratio I think they are fine even if Yu rejects their offer.

Soda pop for all
   10. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: December 18, 2011 at 04:14 PM (#4018887)
If MLB and NPB adjudge the negotiating team to have behaved in bad faith, they can award negotiating rights to the 2nd place club.


Where does this come from? (serious question, not snark). Also, granting that it's correct, I would assume that the NPB team would have to agree to accept the second highest bid, which is a number they don't yet know. So you're looking at 30 days from Tuesday, followed by some amount of time to make the "bad faith" determination, followed by four more days for Nippon Ham to mull over the #2 offer, followed by another 30 day negotiating window -- you'd be lucky to have him signed by March 1.
   11. Tripon Posted: December 18, 2011 at 04:15 PM (#4018888)
Los Angeles (Both the Dodgers, and Angels) is surprisingly low key for baseball players. Votto could do his partying or read a book during his off time, and nobody would care. The only time the entertainment reporters/parazzi care about sports players is if they play for the Lakers or are dating a celeb.
   12. Dock Ellis Posted: December 18, 2011 at 04:23 PM (#4018892)
Wrong thread, Tripon!
   13. Tripon Posted: December 18, 2011 at 04:26 PM (#4018893)
Oops.
   14. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: December 18, 2011 at 04:35 PM (#4018896)
Where does this come from? (serious question, not snark). Also, granting that it's correct, I would assume that the NPB team would have to agree to accept the second highest bid, which is a number they don't yet know. So you're looking at 30 days from Tuesday, followed by some amount of time to make the "bad faith" determination, followed by four more days for Nippon Ham to mull over the #2 offer, followed by another 30 day negotiating window -- you'd be lucky to have him signed by March 1.


Recollection from the Matsuzaka negotiations.

And I agree that NH would have the option of rejecting the bid. I think MCoA is right that this is all unlikely and the Jays bid because they want him and aren't going to lowball him.
   15. TVerik, who wonders what the hell is "Ansky" Posted: December 18, 2011 at 04:38 PM (#4018897)
If we accept both of these to be true (and I see no reason why they are not so):

As a practical matter an approximate 1:1 bid:salary ratio has been established in recent years so as long as Toronto, if they truly won the bid, stays close to that ratio I think they are fine even if Yu rejects their offer.

If Toronto or whoever doesn't float his boat, he could always just play two more years in Japan and become a free agent.


Darvish could essentially DOUBLE his salary if he waits - between a less restrictive bidding system and two more years of (presumably good) numbers in NPB, he should easily make up for hitting the market when he's two years older.
   16. asinwreck Posted: December 18, 2011 at 04:39 PM (#4018899)
While the Toronto area is somewhat larger than the Boston area - though it depends a bit on measurement - it's definitely smaller than Chicago. There are about 9 million people in the greater Chicago metro area.


Including 2.7 million people in the city itself. Granted that's down 200,000 from the 2000 census, but still larger than Toronto.
   17. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: December 18, 2011 at 04:47 PM (#4018900)
he should easily make up for hitting the market when he's two years older


Not to mention that he made between $6M and $7M last season and would be in line for nice raises the next two years. I'm frankly a little bit surprised that he's willing to split the pot with Hokkaido.
   18. Tripon Posted: December 18, 2011 at 04:50 PM (#4018901)
You guys are forgetting how much pressure the Nippon Ham Fighters will put on Darvish to make a contract. They're potentially looking at $50 million in revenue and they wouldn't want to lose it, even if it means getting Darvish for two more years. The money is worth more to them, (otherwise, why post him at all?)
   19. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: December 18, 2011 at 04:51 PM (#4018902)
Darvish could essentially DOUBLE his salary if he waits - between a less restrictive bidding system and two more years of (presumably good) numbers in NPB, he should easily make up for hitting the market when he's two years older.


He is similar to a Matt Moore or a Jon Lester a couple years ago in that regard. It depends on what evel of risk he is willing to take. I think there are two factors of note though;

1 - if he signs now he will be a free agent again at age 31 rather than at age 33. That could have a meaningful difference on that second contract to make up for some (though probably not all) of the difference between a 2012 or 2014 signing.

2 - I don't know how important it is for a guy like Darvish to come to the Majors. It's possible that he is incredibly eager to reach the "Major Leagues" while he may also feel that NPB is equally a "Major League" and thus not feel a strong pull for competitive reasons.
   20. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 18, 2011 at 05:05 PM (#4018911)
I mentioned this before, but there were questions whether the A's negotiated in good faith last year when they submitted a $19 mill bid when the next highest bid was $7 mill, then offered a contract that paid about $3 mill a year. The japanese player (forget his name right now) went back to Japan and MLB never did anything about it, but it was suspected the A's were simply trying to keep the player from the Rangers.
   21. Tripon Posted: December 18, 2011 at 05:13 PM (#4018915)
The pitcher you're thinking of is Hisashi Iwakuma.

OAKLAND, Calif. — The Oakland Athletics failed to reach agreement on a contract with pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma during the allotted 30-day negotiating period that ended Monday, sending him back to his Japanese club.

It became apparent late last month the sides were far off in their negotiations and had all but ended discussions. The A's made the formal announcement Monday night.

Oakland won bidding rights to Iwakuma in early November and had 30 days to reach agreement on a contract. The pitcher wanted a total package comparable to the $126 million, seven-year deal signed by San Francisco left-hander Barry Zito before the 2007 season when the 2002 AL Cy Young Award winner left the A's for the other side of the bay.
   22. Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle Posted: December 18, 2011 at 05:30 PM (#4018922)
The only rule is that they have to negotiate in good faith. Good luck proving that anyone didn't meet that standard. He's not a free agent -- the team that wins the posting has exclusive rights -- so "fair-market" is kind of an irrelevant concept here. You could argue that Darvish is more or less a glorified #1 draft pick (before the new slotting rules of course), and that offering him Strassburg's contract would be eminently fair.

Not really. Darvish has way more leverage than a draft pick. A draft pick has the option to go (back) to school, lose out on a years worth of salary, and then reenter under the same restrictive rules that were there a year earlier. Darvish can go back to Japan, make 8m$ a year for 2 years, and become a unrestricted FA, and essentially pocket the posting fee.
   23. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: December 18, 2011 at 05:34 PM (#4018925)
Japanese media had reported that Oakland made a four-year proposal worth $15.25 million. In terms of annual salary, it is equal to what Iwakuma made with the Eagles of Japan's Pacific League.


That's from Tripon's link. Assuming the $19 million posting fee is accurate I don't think a $15.25 million offer is so low as to be considered "bad faith.". It's low but not unreasonable and if the player is asking $100 million adding $3-6 million more is probably not going to change the result.
   24. TVerik, who wonders what the hell is "Ansky" Posted: December 18, 2011 at 05:53 PM (#4018932)
Once the post is made and successful, does Darvish have access to US sports agents?
   25. valuearbitrageur Posted: December 18, 2011 at 05:58 PM (#4018935)
Isn't it been made clear that the players are getting a part of the posting fee?
   26. TVerik, who wonders what the hell is "Ansky" Posted: December 18, 2011 at 06:32 PM (#4018947)
My understanding was completely opposite - that the league office wouldn't stand for players taking some posting fee money (luxury tax-free). Otherwise it could lead to abuses.
   27. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: December 18, 2011 at 06:43 PM (#4018950)
Once the post is made and successful, does Darvish have access to US sports agents?


Daisuke hired Boras. I don't remember if Boras was "an advisor" or actually an agent but as a practical matter it doesn't seem to make a big difference.
   28. Tripon Posted: December 18, 2011 at 07:06 PM (#4018955)
24. TVerik, AKA Snoopy Snoopy Poop Dog Posted: December 18, 2011 at 12:53 PM (#4018932)
Once the post is made and successful, does Darvish have access to US sports agents?


He should have one already. Don Namura is a guy who specializes in representing Japanese players who make the jump to MLB.
   29. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: December 18, 2011 at 07:25 PM (#4018959)
Darvish has way more leverage than a draft pick.


And way less than a free agent. So like I said, "fair market" isn't relevant.
   30. valuearbitrageur Posted: December 18, 2011 at 08:43 PM (#4018996)
My understanding was completely opposite - that the league office wouldn't stand for players taking some posting fee money (luxury tax-free). Otherwise it could lead to abuses.


My understanding the league doesn't have any way to stop it, and that's why it's not acknowledged publicly, but instead done quietly between the player and his home team. If Darvish isn't getting a piece of the posting fee, why post? He'll make $15M+ the next two years staying in Japan, then he's a free agent who can get a $100M deal directly without paying anyone a piece.

And if Darvish isn't getting a piece of the post fee, but still wants to post, why not lay out your contract demands up front. If he says I want a 5 year $80M contract or I'm staying in Japan, he can force the bidders to lower their bids to ensure they can meet his demands. And if someone wins the bid, but significantly low-balls his asking number, then Yu has quick and easy proof of bad faith and can move on to bidder #2.
   31. shattnering his Dominicano G Strings on that Mound Posted: December 18, 2011 at 08:46 PM (#4019000)
How did Iwakuma fare this year? I confess to having no clue about searching to see... Did Oakland do well to avoid signing him to "Zito" money?
   32. Random Transaction Generator Posted: December 18, 2011 at 09:46 PM (#4019027)
I don't honestly think that Toronto would try anything unethical like what I proposed (since I'm a Jays fan), but I was curious as to the rules that might have been set up already.
   33. Pleasant Nate (Upgraded from 'Nate') Posted: December 19, 2011 at 01:04 AM (#4019082)
My understanding the league doesn't have any way to stop it, and that's why it's not acknowledged publicly, but instead done quietly between the player and his home team.


Cite? I'm curious but I'd like to see that at least speculated about elsewhere.

He'll make $15M+ the next two years staying in Japan, then he's a free agent who can get a $100M deal directly without paying anyone a piece.


There's significant injury risk, as well as performance risk. Also, the benefit of hitting FA earlier, as noted above, and there's present value implications if he gets more now (which he will). Does that add up to the $50M or so posting fee? No, but it's not a huge difference. I think it's pretty akin to the Lester/Moore deals, as someone else noted.

And if Darvish isn't getting a piece of the post fee, but still wants to post, why not lay out your contract demands up front. If he says I want a 5 year $80M contract or I'm staying in Japan, he can force the bidders to lower their bids to ensure they can meet his demands. And if someone wins the bid, but significantly low-balls his asking number, then Yu has quick and easy proof of bad faith and can move on to bidder #2.


Interesting idea, but both MLB and NPB have too much financial interest in future posting fees to allow this to happen. It'd never work.
   34. Pleasant Nate (Upgraded from 'Nate') Posted: December 19, 2011 at 01:13 AM (#4019087)
To further expand on the last point, Josh Bell sent a letter to every team he was going to college....and then signed. Boras leaked that Strasburg would cost $30M to $50M; he signed for $15M. Misinformation is king in situations like this. Darvish's ploy that you have outlined would never hold up because all a team would have to do is point to situations such as the above and say they negotiated in good faith.
   35. Banta Posted: December 19, 2011 at 01:35 AM (#4019094)
Also, the benefit of hitting FA earlier, as noted above, and there's present value implications if he gets more now (which he will)

Doesn't this work the other way for the team though? I mean, paying 50 million up front to a Japanese league is more expensive than a hypothetical 50 million added onto a Davish free agent contract in two years... therefore, wouldn't teams be more willing on a future contract to make up the difference to Davish?

The injury point is very good though (as well as hitting free agency earlier) and probably more important anyway.
   36. ...and Toronto selects: Troy Tulowitzki Posted: December 19, 2011 at 01:52 AM (#4019103)
I don't honestly think that Toronto would try anything unethical

There is zero x 1000 of that happening.
   37. Good cripple hitter Posted: December 19, 2011 at 02:01 AM (#4019105)
How did Iwakuma fare this year? I confess to having no clue about searching to see... Did Oakland do well to avoid signing him to "Zito" money?


He hurt his shoulder. His velocity was reportedly down, and he went on the DL in May. His final line was a 2.42 ERA in 119 innings.

He's a free agent now. Somewhat surprisingly, the A's are reportedly interested in signing him.
   38. Pleasant Nate (Upgraded from 'Nate') Posted: December 19, 2011 at 04:38 AM (#4019166)
Doesn't this work the other way for the team though? I mean, paying 50 million up front to a Japanese league is more expensive than a hypothetical 50 million added onto a Davish free agent contract in two years... therefore, wouldn't teams be more willing on a future contract to make up the difference to Davish?


I'm writing from Darvish's point of view, so the front-loading is a benefit.
   39. valuearbitrageur Posted: December 19, 2011 at 06:57 AM (#4019203)
Cite? I'm curious but I'd like to see that at least speculated about elsewhere.


My cite is that I've seen it speculated on this site, and it makes sense.


There's significant injury risk, as well as performance risk. Also, the benefit of hitting FA earlier, as noted above, and there's present value implications if he gets more now (which he will). Does that add up to the $50M or so posting fee? No, but it's not a huge difference. I think it's pretty akin to the Lester/Moore deals, as someone else noted.


I'm not sure if he can get a multi-year deal in Japan, but if he can, say 2 year $15M-$20M, and thinks he'll get a $100M 6-7 year deal as a U.S free agent (and get to pick his team and city) vs. a 7 year $50M with a U.S. team he could not choose under the posting system, injury risk don't make a huge difference. That extra $30M is only 1.5x what he could get guaranteed, and costs him freedom and a much bigger long term deal.

And present value doesn't apply, because he'll be making more in Japan every year on a yearly basis until he is an unrestricted FA who makes far more every year.


Interesting idea, but both MLB and NPB have too much financial interest in future posting fees to allow this to happen. It'd never work.


But they don't have a say, it's up to Yu and his agent.


To further expand on the last point, Josh Bell sent a letter to every team he was going to college....and then signed. Boras leaked that Strasburg would cost $30M to $50M; he signed for $15M. Misinformation is king in situations like this. Darvish's ploy that you have outlined would never hold up because all a team would have to do is point to situations such as the above and say they negotiated in good faith.


The fact that some players have changed their mind about college has no bearing on Yu's case, and the fact they've asked for more and settled for less doesn't have a great deal. You are absolutely right that it's unlikely the MLB will quickly make any determination that a club didn't negotiate in good faith because of Yu's pre-posting declaration. But that doesn't change the fact that Yu can choose to stick to his guns, force the team to meet his demands, or eventually force the MLB to give his rights to the second place team, or he can go back to Japan and wait it out.

This is the obvious strategy and the fact that japanese players have never pursued it implies they are getting a significant chunk of the posting fee.
   40. OCD SS Posted: December 19, 2011 at 12:08 PM (#4019222)
You are absolutely right that it's unlikely the MLB will quickly make any determination that a club didn't negotiate in good faith because of Yu's pre-posting declaration. But that doesn't change the fact that Yu can choose to stick to his guns, force the team to meet his demands, or eventually force the MLB to give his rights to the second place team, or he can go back to Japan and wait it out.


I don't think it's likely he would be able to do this. He can negotiate and sign for what he can get, or he can go back to Japan. From the sounds of it, the A's stuck to their own very strict guns and Iwakuma went back to Japan.

The posting system is designed to transfer a player's rights from one monopoly to another, and to do so in a way where the influx of talent is not strictly awarded to the richest team. The concept of controlling the labor pool is much more important to the respective monopolies than any single cash payment would be to an individual subsidiary. The idea that because a team negotiates in bad faith his rights will be transferred again (perhaps to someone they prefer) would give the player more leverage in the transaction than either MLB or NPB wants.

In MLB's case this would require Bud to intervene and declare that a team is negotiating in bad faith because they're not offering the player enough money. Can you point to any instance where Bud Selig has intervened to get a player more money from ownership?

This is the obvious strategy and the fact that Japanese players have never pursued it implies they are getting a significant chunk of the posting fee.


Not really. The fact that more teams aren't making sky high postings and then signing the player for dirt cheap points to this not being the case. Also, the Japanese teams probably have other, more punitive incentives. When the Sox were negotiating with DiceK, the rumor got out that Seibu had threatened to send him back to the minors, limiting his service time and thus delaying when he would be able to leave NPB as a free agent.
   41. valuearbitrageur Posted: December 19, 2011 at 08:59 PM (#4019543)
Not really. The fact that more teams aren't making sky high postings and then signing the player for dirt cheap points to this not being the case. Also, the Japanese teams probably have other, more punitive incentives. When the Sox were negotiating with DiceK, the rumor got out that Seibu had threatened to send him back to the minors, limiting his service time and thus delaying when he would be able to leave NPB as a free agent.


But teams are making sky high postings, and signing players for dirt cheap. Matsusaka's contract was only 50% of the Red Sox total spending on him.

Do you really think his team would refuse to give him 20-30% of the posting fee so they can jerk him around in the minors and have nothing, no DiceK helping them win games, no $35M posting fee? That's a pretty audacious bluff.
   42. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: December 19, 2011 at 09:12 PM (#4019550)
Do you really think his team would refuse to give him 20-30% of the posting fee so they can jerk him around in the minors and have nothing, no DiceK helping them win games, no $35M posting fee? That's a pretty audacious bluff.


Pissed off people can do pretty stupid things.

I also don't know how NPB contracts work, are they guaranteed like MLB deals or do the teams get out from under the requirement to pay the player if he gets sent down? That could make up for some of the lost posting fee.
   43. Something Other Posted: December 20, 2011 at 12:57 AM (#4019686)
I'm thinking Darvish gets a nice briefcase as a goodbye present. "Oh, look, there's ten million U.S. inside. Cool!"

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