Sports Law Blog
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Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Did Daisuke Matsuzaka "Overrule" Scott Boras?
The Boston Red Sox have signed Daisuke Matsuzaka, the 26-year-old Japanese pitcher whose agent, Scott Boras, had adamantly contended was worth between $15 million and $20 million a year. During the 30-day-window in which the Sox could negotiate with Matsuzaka, Boras repeatedly threatened that Matsuzaka would return to Japan unless he signed a deal worth in excess of $100 million over six years.
But to the surprise of many baseball experts, Matsuzaka has agreed to a much smaller figure--try a half. The Red Sox will pay him $52 million over six years. Sure, that's still an insane amount of money, but it seems that Boras didn't get anywhere near what he told the world he would get.
So what happened?
It's not yet clear, but I have to imagine that Matsuzaka felt that he could not return to Japan. Not only did his team, the Seibu Lions, bid him an emotional farewell in front of 36,000 fans, but they are apparently in financial troubles and really need the $51 million the Sox agreed to pay if Matsuaka signed. So perhaps returning to Japan was not a realistic option for Matsuzaka if he was not willing to absorb a serious reputational cost. And it's possible that Boras was aware of this all-along, had hoped the Red Sox and the baseball world would think otherwise, but gradually realized that the Red Sox saw through the veil.
It's also possible that Matsuzaka simply overruled Boras. Boras is known for maximizing the financial value of his clients, but he's less well regarded for placing them in situations where they thrive. Earlier this week, ESPN's Buster Olney had this revealing comment about A-Rod's contract with the Rangers:
A few months after Alex Rodriguez signed his $252 million contract with the Texas Rangers, a deal negotiated by Boras, A-Rod was quoted in a New York newspaper as saying that he had really hoped to sign with the Mets. That seemed utterly bizarre, and a little silly: A-Rod had more negotiating leverage than any player in the history of baseball and yet he wound up playing someplace other than where he wanted to play. He could've played for the Mets – maybe not for $252 million, but maybe for $200 million. The difference between his playing for the Mets or not playing for the Mets was a whole lot of numbers on bank statements.So maybe unlike A-Rod, Matsuzaka told Boras, in essence, "I appreciate you trying to get me as much money as possible, but I'm signing with Boston, even if doing so might make you look bad or somehow tarnish your tough-guy reputation." And if Matsuzaka indeed said something like that, it would serve as an important and appropriate reminder that the client should always call the shots, even if the agent is of the highest profile and greatest influence in the sport. This is a subject that I examine in my Brooklyn Law Review article "It's Not About the Money."