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On Feb. 23, 2007, the Red Sox signed Daisuke Matsuzaka to a six-year deal worth $52 million. The Sox paid $51 million to the Seibu Lions to even negotiate with Matsuzaka. Even though a lot of money was spent for Dice-K, it was all worth it at the time because the Sox desperately needed an ace in the rotation. I was excited when the Sox signed Matsuzaka because of the hype surrounding him and his mythical pitch, the gyroball. Did I ever imagine six years later that Dice-K would be signing a minor league deal with the Indians? Not at all.
Looking at his time with the Red Sox, Matsuzaka only had one terrific season, in 2008, when he went 18-3 with a 2.90 era, 154 strikeouts, and a 1.32 WHIP. But in his first season with the Red Sox, Dice-K was still impressive, finishing with 201 strikeouts and a 4.40 ERA. After that, though, Dice-K had a rough time in Boston, finishing with an 8.28 ERA in his final season last year.
Matsuzaka, during the six years with the Red Sox, dealt with injuries, which hurt his value. In the 2008 season, when he posted his best numbers, John Farrell was still the Red Sox pitching coach. It would have been interesting to see if Dice-K would possibly turn around if signed back with the Red Sox now that Farrell is back. But since Dice K could never replicate the numbers he posted in 2008, it was time for the Sox and Dice-K to part ways.
In the Indians case, the signing of Dice-K does not hurt. It is hard to believe that Dice-K would post 2008 numbers with Cleveland, but he could provide insurance in the rotation if given a spot. If Dice-K is able to stay healthy and lower down the ERA, he would be a great addition for the Indians. But, he will likely not make a huge turnaround though.
As for his legacy in Boston, it is disappointing. But, the Red Sox should have learned a lesson though. Looking at George Steinbrenner’s time with the Yankees, Steinbrenner would overpay his players and throw money around because he badly wanted to win. The Sox pulled a Steinbrenner and went all in for Dice-K. It is hard to imagine the Red Sox ever paying $51 million to negotiate with another pitcher after seeing what Dice-K’s time with the Red Sox was like. The Sox will not approach the Steinbrenner way of signing players ever again because the Red Sox have already dealt with too many players who have signed for big contracts but have not lived up to expectations. Besides Dice-K, Carl Crawford and John Lackey are other examples.