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How much value did the Red Sox get for their $103 million investment in Daisuke Matsuzaka?

Jun 3, 2011, 12:42 PM EDT

Daisuke Matsuzaka

No official announcement has been made yet quite yet, but various reports confirm that Daisuke Matsuzaka will undergo Tommy John elbow surgery next week.

That means he’s finished for this season and will likely miss most or perhaps even all of 2012, which is the final year of his six-year contract with the Red Sox signed in December of 2006.

Between the posting fee to win his exclusive negotiations rights and the six-year contract Boston made a total investment of $103 million in Matsuzaka. What did they get for that money?

Your mileage may vary, of course, but to my eyes Matsuzaka has had one very good season (2008), two decent seasons (2007, 2010), and two injury wrecked and/or terrible seasons (2009, 2011). Add it all up and he logged 623 innings spread over 105 starts and one relief appearance, posting a 4.25 ERA and 568/301 K/BB ratio while opponents hit .242 with a .720 OPS off him.

Basically he was a solid mid-rotation starter with durability issues, starting 32, 29, 12, 25, and 7 games (plus whatever he contributes next season) with an ERA that was 5-10 percent better than the league average once you adjust for Fenway Park.

According to Fan Graphs’ player evaluation system that performance was worth about $44 million and Matsuzaka also had a 4.79 ERA in seven postseason starts, so let’s bump that up to around $50 million. There are probably also plenty of off-field factors involved in his overall value to the team, but strictly in terms of on-field performance for a six-year, $103 million investment the Red Sox received approximately $50 million worth of value in the form of one good season, two decent seasons, and two (and likely three) bad seasons.

  1. Elwood Larf - Jun 3, 2011 at 1:09 PM

    Wow. I’m SOOOOO glad the Yankees missed out on that guy. Then again, there’s Igawa and Pavano.

    • Vincent - Jun 3, 2011 at 1:33 PM

      and Wang…

      • phukyouk - Jun 3, 2011 at 1:34 PM

        wang was a fluke. when he was healthy he was money. i would take him over Dice-K anyway

      • phukyouk - Jun 3, 2011 at 1:35 PM



    • pjmarn6 - Jun 3, 2011 at 8:45 PM

      No baseball player is worth $1,000,000 much less $50,000,000 or $103,000,000. Consider a teacher gets on average $43,000 a year and has the responsibility of teaching our kids. And these guys? 20-40 days a year they work? And according to the numbers thrown about he got about $20,000,000 a year or 500 times what a teacher earns? Our values as a nation are down the toilet.

      • pinjury123 - Jun 4, 2011 at 9:49 AM

        You are absolutely correct but 50000 people don’t go anywhere to see any teacher teach. But u r right, teachers should be making a living. We can’t compare apple and oranges though.

      • pinjury123 - Jun 4, 2011 at 9:50 AM

        Better living

  2. acheron2112 - Jun 3, 2011 at 1:26 PM

    Including the posting fee always seems disingenuous to me — he had a $52 million contract, and has provided $50 million of value before the TJ surgery, which seems pretty good.

    • dnc6 - Jun 3, 2011 at 2:56 PM

      So that other 50 million just doesn’t count? The Sox spent an extra 50 million to make sure every other team was out of the running, just like what the Yankees had to do to sign Sabathia.

      • Jack Marshall - Jun 3, 2011 at 5:26 PM

        Do you include the cost of maintaining a minor league system to develop all the prospects as included in the “cost” of a home-grown player? The Sox said when they signed Dice-K that they would make a loot of money back in Japanese merchandizing, and I’d use that to balance some of the posting fee. I have no idea what that figure is, but it’s something, and its part of what the team paid for.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jun 3, 2011 at 7:38 PM

        The Sox said when they signed Dice-K that they would make a loot of money back in Japanese merchandizing, and I’d use that to balance some of the posting fee

        From what people on were saying, that money is split between the teams like all other merchandise products. It was a rebuttal to everyone who wanted to overpay for Matsui because they said he paid for it in foreign merch sales.

  3. conrey - Jun 3, 2011 at 1:28 PM

    Why would you include the Posting Fee? That had nothign to do with money that went to DiceK. That money has nothing to do with the contract he recieved, it was purely the cost of acquiring the rights to talk to him – no different than the assets they traded to get Adrian Gonzalez before negotiating a new contract with him.

    • tjwilliams - Jun 3, 2011 at 2:02 PM

      The posting fee is completely germane to the discussion, because it was part of the cost to acquire Dice-K. In the future, when people evaluate the Red Sox’s acquisition of Adrian Gonzalez, you better believe they’ll consider the players they traded in addition to the cost of his salary. The question being asked here is: was Dice-K worth it? Given the total cost to acquire him compared to the value he provided, the answer seems to be clearly, no.

  4. phukyouk - Jun 3, 2011 at 1:36 PM

    he was a clubhouse poison from what i have read. thast got to lower his value. and then there will be Sox fans that will say that he helped lead them to a Chip in 07 so that will raise his value.

  5. uyf1950 - Jun 3, 2011 at 2:45 PM

    A $103,000,000 or 92,000,000,000 billion Yen based on the approximate currency conversion rate at the time of his signing. 92,000,000,000 billion Yen sounds a lot more impressive. Plus don’t forget the perks. Round trip first class airline tickets back and forth to Japan per year, etc… But who’s counting.

    • uyf1950 - Jun 3, 2011 at 3:01 PM

      BTW, in the interest of fairness I should add that the Yankees signing of Kei Igawa at approximately 40% of the cost of Dice K. $41,000,000 is not exactly chump change. And while I am extremely happy that this is his last year as a Yankee. He has labored for the most part in Triple A Scranton and I’m sure helped them win many a game. I feel better have included Igawa in the post.

      • phukyouk - Jun 3, 2011 at 3:34 PM

        HEY! Iguana is the WINNINGEST pitcher in Scranton history. give him props.

  6. jimbo1949 - Jun 3, 2011 at 3:16 PM

    Average cost per game approx $972k; win, lose or draw

  7. CJ - Jun 3, 2011 at 3:51 PM

    I’m not quite sure on the exact number, but I’m reasonably certain it contains two commas and is a negative number.

  8. royhobbs39 - Jun 3, 2011 at 4:27 PM

    I seem to remember that the signing was not only about gaining his arm, but also gaining recognition in Japan. Much like Ichiro did for the Mariners and Matsui did for the Yankees. The Sox were looking to gain some TV time in the Far East and the advertising dollars that went along with it. I remember at the time that the M’s and the Yanks would have outfield signs in Japanese. I wonder if his signing had that sort of impact. They never had the outfield signs, but I do remember Dice-K and Okijima have good years around the same time. I think his signing’s impact on the Japanese presence should be taken into account.

    That being said…$103 million is a lot of dough for 2 1/2 decent years. And I never did figure out what a gyroball is?

    • joeflaccosunibrow - Jun 3, 2011 at 4:53 PM

      You might not know what a gyroball is, but most of the AL players did.

  9. ILoveBaseball - Jun 3, 2011 at 6:22 PM

    He won a World Series game and directly helped his team to a championship = money well spent.

    • rjostewart - Jun 3, 2011 at 6:43 PM

      This raises a good point: winning the World Series probably did have a very real impact on the organization’s bottom line for at least a couple of years – I say “probably” because we’d have to look in John Henry’s books to know for sure. That has to be figured into the valuation somehow. But how?

  10. jimatkins - Jun 3, 2011 at 7:28 PM

    Not including the posting fee is like not including a realtor’s commission as part of the price you pay for the house. The cost of a thing is what you give up to get it-in this case the Sox got basically taken. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing.

  11. pisano - Jun 3, 2011 at 8:21 PM

    Hey, they got hosed, they know it and everyone knows it. They got sold a bill of goods and this guy is not American Major league quality. He may have been an ace in Japan, but that’s night and day from being an ace in the U.S. He had about a year and a half here that was good and after that most of his time was on the DL, as he is now. If this TJ surgery happens the Red Sox ought to just cut their losses and forget they ever made the mistake of signing this fragile little guy. Let some other team get hosed by him.

  12. dirtyharry1971 - Jun 4, 2011 at 11:15 AM

    If the blowsox were smart they would extend dice k’s contract for 8 more seasons, i mean come on he’s only 30, lots of miles left on that arm!!

  13. j0esixpack - Jun 4, 2011 at 5:41 PM

    It’s actually two questions:

    1. Did/Will the Sox get $51 million in posting fee/marketing value – i.e. revenue – from Japan in the 6 years?

    I’d think the answer to that will probably yes but I’m not sure. The Sox’s popularity on the other side of the Pacific certainly jumped thanks to Dice-K I expect that will reap long-term marketing benefits for the Sox.

    2. Did the Sox get $52 million in baseball production? As noted above they came close to getting it.

    I’m not sure I’d consider this a break even deal, but one does have to realize that the whole reason teams were willing to pay the posting fee was because of the near immediate return on Japanese marketing – so it’s a bit unfair to compare Dice-K with most other MLB players in that regard.

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