A couple years after branding the New York Yankees "The Evil Empire," the Red Sox made a Yankee-like move by winning the rights to negotiate with Daisuke Matsuzaka with a $51.1M bid. Note that the $51.1M is going to the Seibu Lions, Matsuzaka's current team; Boston has 30 days to pony up even more money in order to get Matsuzaka to sign. If they can't come to an agreement with Matsuzaka, the star pitcher will go back to Japan for the 2007 season.
Regardless of how the Red Sox want to justify it, the bid is unprecedented in its size; the previous high posting fee came six years ago when the Seattle Mariners paid a relatively paltry $14M to negotiate with Ichiro Suzuki.
Lost in the Matsuzaka madness was the report that the Devil Rays had placed the winning bid on Akinori Iwamura, a player the Indians had considerable interest in. Tampa's bid was $4.5M, which was roughly the amount predicted. Iwamura might be the biggest bargain of the offseason, and the Indians missed out on it.
The Yankees are close to re-signing Mike Mussina.