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Red Sox must really want Matsuzaka

Associated Press

NAPLES, Fla.— The market price for pitching talent is soaring so high that it’s come to this: The Boston Red Sox are ready to pay more than $50 million just for the right to negotiate with Daisuke Matsuzaka, who’s never thrown his "gyroball" — or any pitch, for that matter — in the major leagues.

The $51.1 million winning bid is only the start. Now the Red Sox have 30 days to finalize a contract with the Japanese ace.

Making a record-setting bid that easily blew away offers from the New York Yankees, Mets and others, the Red Sox won the auction Tuesday for the World Baseball Classic MVP.

And they’re prepared to pay big money for him — the previous high bid for a posted player from Japan was $13,125,000 by the Seattle Mariners for Ichiro Suzuki after the 2000 season.

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Speculation about what it will take for Boston to sign Matsuzaka has ranged from $7 million to $10 million annually over three to four years.

The Seibu Lions of Japan’s Pacific League announced they had accepted the high bid for their prized pitcher, and the major league commissioner’s office simultaneously confirmed at the general managers’ meetings that the Red Sox had made the offer.

If the Red Sox and Matsuzaka can agree to a deal by midnight on Dec. 14, the right-hander would join a talented rotation that already includes Curt Schilling, Josh Beckett and converted closer Jonathan Papelbon.

Matsuzaka was 17-5 with a 2.13 ERA and 200 strikeouts for the Lions this year. He throws in the high-90s mph, has good off-speed pitches and is known for his deceptive "gyroball," which has been likened to a screwball.

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