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Sunday, December 10, 2006
Dealings would need 'abrupt change' to beat deadline

ESPN.com news services

After all the hoopla surrounding the $51.1 million bid the Red Sox posted to talk to Daisuke Matsuzaka, it appears a contract may not materialize.

Peter Gammons on Matsuzaka
Daisuke Matsuzaka
Matsuzaka

Boston essentially needs to get the Matsuzaka agreement done by Tuesday night so they can get him in Wednesday for a physical prior to the Thursday deadllne. One GM Friday said "it would be a shame for Matsuzaka and baseball to hold him out to try to force a change in the posting system." Boras has a very strong relationship with Theo Epstein, but he is willing to hold out players when necessary, such as Boston's current catcher and right fielder.

Will it get done? No one knows. But one can assume that the Red Sox are a far better team with Matsuzaka than without him, although he has never thrown a pitch in the AL East.

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Negotiations between the team and the Japanese star pitcher have nearly broken down, the Boston Herald reported Sunday. A source familiar with the situation told the Herald late Saturday that unless "there is an abrupt change of course," the Red Sox will not strike a deal with Matsuzaka before the deadline midnight Thursday.

Attempts to reach Matsuzaka's agent, Scott Boras, were unsuccessful. The source blamed Boras for a lack of interest in the negotiations.

Matsuzaka signed with Boras in October and was posted for bidding in early November.

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

The Lions will not receive any of the $51.1 million if Matsuzaka does not sign. The initial offer made by the Red Sox was believed to be between $7-8 million a year for four-six years, but Boras was reportedly asking for nearly $15 million a year.

Though the Herald's source admitted that there is time for the outlook to change, as of Saturday night the team and Matsuzaka weren't close to finding a common ground.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.