Did anyone besides Steve Phillips think this deal was not going to happen? Yes, Scott Boras has done a couple of high-profile walkouts (see Drew, J.D. and Varitek, Jason), but both of those situations cost the player involved significant money on the front end that, even with bloated Boras deals on the back end, they'll never make up. And if the player isn't making money, neither is Boras. So, with that in mind, here's a quick look at the winners and losers:
- Scott Boras - The whole "he won't sign" shtick was a transparent media ploy, designed to keep his client's name (and his) on ESPN every fifteen seconds. But he got the deal done, he got his commission, he got his publicity, and he got his guy $2M more than the Sox were supposed to be willing to pay - which can't hurt when he's trolling for clients for next year's free agent class.
- Theo Epstein - He got the best pitcher on the market this year, and it's not like he's spending his own money. Even better, he left the Yankees visibly picking up table scraps (see: Igawa, Kei - $26M posting fee).
- Daisuke Matsuzaka - He leaves Seibu, the Kansas City Royals of Japanese baseball, and comes to a serious World Series contender. He's in line to make roughly a gazillion dollars in marketing. And he's got a contract with perks the likes of which Kevin Brown never dreamed. It's good to be the king.
- Terry Francona - A starting pitcher? Who's durable? And not in his late 30s or early 40s? Hopefully he'll know what to do with it.
- WEEI - Because odds are, the Red Sox are going to provide Matsuzaka with a translator who doesn't own an AM radio, and where's the fun of ripping a guy for not being Jim freakin' Lonborg every time out if he doesn't hear you and react?
- All of the media hounds in the Boston dugout - Because there are going to be roughly four hundred thousand Japanese reporters there, and none of them are going to care about Manny being Manny, Curt Schilling's video game company, the tattered remains of the Idiots, or anything except Matsuzaka.
- Barry Zito - Because of the Matsuzaka chase, his free agency got back-burnered. He'll still get his money, but he's clearly not his agent's top priority this winter, and that may end up driving down the (still sure to be insane) price.
- Tampa Bay Devil Rays - Having made an exceedingly canny signing of a Japanese player (3B Akinori Iwamura) and stockpiled an astounding excess of outfield talent in order to be in a position to trade for starting pitching, they'd be inclined to think that the gap between them and respectability was closing. And for a brief, brief moment, it was. Unless they can pull off the vaguely rumored Baldelli-for-Hamels/Myers trade, all of their young positional talent won't be enough to get them anywhere.