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Mariners won't bid for Matsuzaka

Mariners won't bid for Matsuzaka

SEATTLE -- There figures to be a handful of Major League teams who will be involved in the posting process for the right to sign Japanese starting pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka.

But the Seattle Mariners won't be one of them.

Seattle general manager Bill Bavasi confirmed on Wednesday that the team's owner, Hiroshi Yamauchi, opted against pursuing the 26-year-old right-hander.

"A decision has been made by Mr. Yamauchi," Bavasi said, "that we will not be participating in the bidding process, and it's a decision that our baseball department concurs with."

One factor -- one large factor -- that could have steered the Mariners' interest away from making a run at Matsuzaka in the posting process might have been the anticipated asking price just to win the rights to negotiate with him.

The winning bid in the posting process for Matsuzaka is rumored to be in the neighborhood of $25 million and possibly as high as $30 million.

That's certainly a far cry from what Seattle paid to win rights to negotiate with outfielder Ichiro Suzuki in the fall of 2000.

Beyond that, the team with the highest bid to Matsuzaka's current team -- the Seibu Lions -- has 30 days to negotiate a contract. Matsuzaka, who is being represented by agent Scott Boras, could command an annual salary in the neighborhood of $10 million.

Seattle paid a reported $13.1 million to Ichiro's Japanese team -- the Orix Blue Wave -- to win the rights to sign him.

Matsuzaka hasn't officially been posted by the Lions but is expected to soon. There are a handful of teams reportedly interested in him, including the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers.

After Seibu rejected his demand to be posted after the 2005 season, Matsuzaka went out and helped Japan to the World Baseball Classic title in March and was named the Most Valuable Player.

He was even better for Seibu this past season, posting 17 victories in 25 starts with an ERA of 2.13 to go with 200 strikeouts in 186 1/3 innings. Much has been made of his "gyroball," a pitch that looks like a hanging curveball only to dart sharply away from right-handed hitters with the cutting action of a slider.

The Mariners -- who said at the end of the regular season that their most pressing need was starting pitching -- are expected to turn to other candidates like San Francisco's Jason Schmidt and Texas' Adam Eaton, among others.

Schmidt (Kelso) and Eaton (Snohomish) both have ties to the Pacific Northwest and are believed to have interest in the Mariners.

Schmidt was 11-9 with a 3.59 ERA in 32 starts for the Giants last season. He struck out 180 in 213 1/3 innings. He'll turn 34 in January.

Eaton, who will turn 29 on Nov. 23, was 7-4 with a 5.12 ERA in 13 starts. He missed the first half of the season after he injured the middle finger on his throwing hand and needed surgery at the end of Spring Training.

Jarrod Washburn and Felix Hernandez are the only certain starting pitchers coming back in 2007, as Gil Meche is a free agent.

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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