By Sean McAdam
The Red Sox and Chicago Cubs may have discussed the names of Daisuke Matsuzaka and Cub outfielder Kosuke Fukudome, but pursuing a deal involving the two Japanese players does not seem like a priority for either team right now.
A Cubs source said Wednesday that in recently completed organizational meetings, Matsuzaka's name did not surface. Nor was Matsuzaka mentioned when Cubs officials discussed possible bad contracts they might be willing to assume under the right circumstances. Matsuzaka, who had an injury-plagued, largely uneven season (9-6, 4.69 in 25 starts), has two years and approximately 19 million on his landmark six-year deal with the Red Sox following an expensive posting process in 2006.
Matsuzaka's deal includes a rarely granted perk among Red Sox contracts: A full no-trade clause, meaning he has the right to negate any deal the Sox propose.
This is not the first time Fukudome's name has been linked to the Red Sox. Last June after injuries struck outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron, the Cubs called and offered Fukudome, whom they were shopping to multiple teams. Fukudome is due 13.5 million in 2011, the final year of his deal with the Cubs.
Fukodome, who'll turn 34 at the end of April 2011, batted .263 in 130 games last year with 13 homers and 44 RBI. He had a .371 on-base percentage for a .439 slugging percentage, giving him an .809 OPS.
The Sox are universally expected to bid for both top free-agent outfielders on the market, Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth. It's possible that Fukudome might interest them as a fallback proposition. He could conceivably be paired with Cameron in a left-field platoon should Werth and Crawford sign elsewhere, though that would be an expensive proposition for the Sox. If such a deal were to be made without the Cubs agreeing to take back some of Fukudome's salary, the platoon of Fukudome and Cameron would cost the Red Sox 21 million.
It's unclear how willing -- the pitcher's no-trade clause notwithstanding -- the Sox are in dealing Matsuzaka. The rotation is otherwise set with Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Josh Beckett and John Lackey, and they could plug Felix Dubront into the fifth spot to give them a second left-hander, to say nothing of the considerable savings in salary.
It has been speculated that if Matsuzaka were to waive his no-trade, it would likely be to a West Coast team in a market with a signifcant Japanese population. A West Coast team would also bring Matsuzaka 3,000 miles closer to his native country, making return flights home at least somewhat more convenient.