Free Agent Stock Watch: Daisuke Matsuzaka

Six years ago this month, Daisuke Matsuzaka was the best pitcher in the world not employed by an MLB team. He dominated Nippon Professional Baseball with the Seibu Lions, winning the league strikeout title four times from 2000-2006. The Lions posted him after 2006, and the Red Sox won his negotiating rights (for $51M+) and then signed him to a six-year contract (worth $52MM).

Uspw_6314944Things are much different now, as Dice-K is a few weeks away from becoming a free agent for the first time time in his career. He helped Boston win a World Series in 2007 and finished fourth in the Cy Young Award voting in 2008 (18-3, 2.90 ERA), but things have gone downhill since. Matsuzaka pitched to a 5.76 ERA while missing considerable time with a groin injury in 2009. He stayed reasonably healthy in 2010 but pitched to a 4.69 ERA. After allowing 24 runs in his first 37 1/3 innings of 2011, Dice-K underwent Tommy John surgery.

Matsuzaka, 32, has posted a 7.14 ERA with 8.3 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 in 40 1/3 innings this season since coming off the DL. All of the hype from 2006-2007 is gone, and that six-year contract expires after the season. It's been four years since Dice-K's last sub-4.50 ERA, five years since his last sub-4.0 BB/9, and five years since his last 200-inning season. He has said he would like to pitch until he's 40, though he'll head into this offseason as a reclamation project.

The starting pitching free agent market offers a number of reclamation types, including Colby Lewis, Erik Bedard, and Carl Pavano, all of whom are older than Matsuzaka. A move to a pitcher's park should help his numbers, as would a potential shift to the NL. There wasn't any interest in the right-hander when the Red Sox put him on waivers last month, but that's not surprising given his salary ($10MM). Agent Scott Boras has a way of finding better than expected contracts for his clients, but it's tough to see him getting Dice-K anything more than a one-year, low-base salary deal (with incentives) this winter.

Photo courtesy of US Presswire.

22 Responses to Free Agent Stock Watch: Daisuke Matsuzaka Leave a Reply

  1. sarcasm_robot 3 years ago

    how delicious would it be to see theo sign him and actually fix him?

    • dc21892 3 years ago

      Theo wouldn’t be fixing him. It would be the coaching staff.

    • johnsilver 3 years ago

      Epstein brought in a PILE of reclamation projects while he was in Boston and the only one who ever amounted to anything? Andrew Miller, who it took 1 year and countless effort to get to the point of being useful again.

      Epstein’s failures?

      Wade Miller

      Just a few.. Go ahead Cubs, give him a few million, Epstein has thrown away 20m+ on failed rehab projects.

      That money is better spent on the draft.

      • bigpat 3 years ago

        Matt Clement wasn’t a reclamation project but he also sucked nonetheless.

        • Karkat 3 years ago

          To be fair to Matt Clement, he did take a baseball to the head, before which time I recall him being solid.

          • johnsilver 3 years ago

            Yeah. Clement started out like 9-0, or 10-0 in ’05 before he took that shot. he had really turned his career around it seemed in Boston.

            Kind of a Herb Score scenario where Clement was never anything again after it.

          • PWNdroia 3 years ago

            Actually, that strand of going 10 and 0 or whatever it is was an outlier compared to his career numbers. Clement was pretty bad before even coming to Boston. He had only had two years previously that were even considered semi-decent. So I give Theo no credit here in signing him.

      • PWNdroia 3 years ago

        Don’t forget Matt Clement, Julio Lugo, JD Drew, Edgar Renteria… okay they’re not all pitchers, but still he’s failed in many regards (more than I can mention here).

  2. GStill45 3 years ago

    Spring training invite. If he’s lucky.

  3. How is Colby Lewis a reclamation project? His numbers look pretty good and have been consistently.

    • Sky14 3 years ago

      I agree, Lewis is pretty solid. I think Liriano would be a better example of a reclamation project.

    • LazerTown 3 years ago

      He missed half the season with an elbow injury. If he could come back healthy, but 3.43 era this year and 4.40 era is going to give alot of gm’s pause before handing out a big contract. He really needed a strong season to get that big contract.

  4. jmcbosox 3 years ago

    i always had a feeling that he was uncomfortable in the US, i know he has said he likes boston but i think its just rhetoric. i think he really wants to go back home and the contract offers he receives may be incentive to do so,

    • LazerTown 3 years ago

      I think alot of it has to do with his workload in japan. From very early years, through high school, and into professional they have a huge workload. I just don’t think that it bodes well for a long career. Sure there are some exceptions (kuroda) but there have been alot of pitchers that have a couple decent season and then fall apart.

  5. HobokenMetsFan 3 years ago

    He has “Mets” written all over him

    • 1-year, incentive-laden contract, although I agree with others than a spring-training invite is more likely.

  6. ugotrpk3113 3 years ago

    He has an issue conforming with the MLB standards and US culture. His pitching style puts millions of people watching on NESN into deep levels of REM. That and his one good season was about as lucky as winning a million dollars on a 1$ scratch off.

    He should, if he’s interested in jump starting his career, go back to Japan.

  7. Joe Valenti 3 years ago

    If I didn’t dread the thought of actually having to watch him pitch 6 innings in 3 hours on SNY I would actually like to see the Mets take a flyer on him. He might be a low risk high reward guy, but watching him pitch is just a dreadful bore

    • Karkat 3 years ago

      As someone who has been at Fenway Park for several Matsuzaka starts… yes.

  8. Leonard Washington 3 years ago

    Honestly I think his best move is to go back to Japan an establish himself over there again. Then maybe get himself a multi year deal from a Japanese team.

  9. bigpat 3 years ago

    I don’t think he’s any good but there’s a chance he can still pitch ok on the right team in the right park. I can see the Mariners offering him 2M guaranteed since they have a lot of holes in their rotation and routinely employ Japanese talent.

  10. PWNdroia 3 years ago

    I bet someone will sign him and he’ll start pitching gems for them.

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