Lions have been notified of highest bid for pitcher

NEW YORK -- The waiting began Wednesday for teams that bid for Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka.

His Japanese club, the Pacific League's Seibu Lions, said they
have been notified of the highest bid for the 26-year-old
right-hander. They said they will not make a decision on whether to
accept until after a meeting of their board of directors -- not
expected to be held before Friday at the earliest.

The New York Yankees, New York Mets, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers were thought to be among the teams that bid for Matsuzaka, but the major league commissioner's office
instructed teams not to comment publicly, several clubs said.

The Yankees' involvement was confirmed by a baseball official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the directive. Prior to the directive, the Rangers had said they planned to bid.

The major-league commissioner's office, which opened the bidding last Thursday, informed the Japanese commissioner's office of the amount of the highest bid but not the club that made the offer. The team and the amount will be revealed only if the Lions accept the offer.

Seibu has until Tuesday to make its decision. When outfielder Ichiro Suzuki was posted by the Orix BlueWave in November 2000, the BlueWave announced the day after bidding closed that it accepted an offer of $13,125,000, and Selig's office revealed a few hours later that the Seattle Mariners had the winning bid. Suzuki agreed a few weeks later to a $14 million, three-year contract.

Once an offer is accepted, the major-league team has 30 days to agree to a contract with Matsuzaka, who is represented by agent Scott Boras. The bid is paid only if a contract is agreed upon.

Matsuzaka, MVP of the World Baseball Classic in March, was 17-5 with a 2.13 ERA and 200 strikeouts for the Lions this year. He throws in the high-90s mph, has good off-speed pitches and is known for his deceptive "gyroball."

Bidding closes Friday for Akinori Iwamura, a third baseman with the Central League's Yakult Swallows.