Yanks considered Matsui for Washburn


Ken Rosenthal (via MLBTR) mentioned in his column today that the Yanks and Mariners talked briefly about a Hideki Matsui for Jarrod Washburn swap earlier this offseason, but couldn’t find a match because of the difference in salaries (Matsui’s owed $2.65M more than Washburn this year). I’m going to assume this discussion took place when it seemed like there was little chance Andy Pettitte would return, and perhaps even before the CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett pickups. You may remember that the Yanks were pretty close to acquiring the lefty before the trade deadline last year, but the M’s put a stop too the move because they wanted a top prospect in return.

I’ve been against trading Matsui because I think he’s more useful to the Yanks than anything they could get in return. Just look at Washburn, he kinda sorta qualifies as an innings eater – he’s averaged ~178 IP over the last three years – but he’s been below average during that time, posting between a 4.72 and 4.78 FIP and averaging +1.6 WAR (replacement level is set at two wins below league average, so Washburn was about half a win below average). With two bum knees, a full no trade clause and $13M coming to him, Matsui’s understandably not the most desirable trade target.

To the Yankees however, Matsui represents a bit of an upside play at DH. While dealing with knee issues that limited him to 287 of 486 possible games over the last three years, he hit .291-.372-.469 with a ~.365 wOBP. Do you know what Bobby Abreu hit last year? .296-.371-.471 with a .348 wOBP. It’s entirely reasonable to expect Matsui to replace Abreu’s production this year if he stays healthy, which he has a much better chance of doing as a DH.

Would it be nice to see a guy like Manny Ramirez or Adam Dunn occupying the DH spot? Sure, but given the Yanks current roster construction that’s extremely unlikely. Let’s give Hit-deki a chance, he just might surprise us.

Categories : Hot Stove League


  1. A.D. says:

    Matsui is more valuable to the Yankees then he possibly could be to any other team or what they would give up for him. Best is to hold onto him, if he’s healthy he’ll rake, and if he’s not, that will fix the OF logjam

  2. agree 100% mike… though i wouldnt even consider it a “surprise”

    his worst full year in the majors was his rookie year, and even then he had 100 rbis and ops’d nearly 800

    i think hes the best candidate for the 5 spot in the lineup, considering hes a count-worker/low strikeout/high OBP guy… and while i dont have the stats in front of me, hes always seemed to be a great run producer and hitter with RISP

    mike hit the nail on the head… lets not forget how good of a hitter this guy is

  3. BJ says:

    Completely unrelated to the post but somewhat baseball related; I just saw a trailer for this movie about a kid that goes from DR to the minors, looks like it could be pretty sick. It’s called Sugar, and the trailer is at:

    definitely check it out.

    • “completely unrelated” followed up by “but somewhat baseball related” is never a good first sentence to a post

      • BJ says:

        Meh. It’s the Saturday before the Super Bowl, non-baseball stuff is bound to come up, get used to it. I figured the most promising baseball trailer I have seen for a while was worth noting, especially after an article about a trade that never happened and now will definitely not happen.

    • Mike Pop says:

      “Sugar” is not a baseball movie. It is a masterpiece about one man’s journey.

      • BJ says:

        Funny. Personally, I really dislike titles that are simply a character’s name or some pun on that name, and “Sugar” really is pretty bad, it just sound weird and doesn’t say anything.

        Still, I like the look of the trailer and I think it is an angle that hasn’t been explored in sports movies as much as the usual shtick.

    • RCK says:

      Ooh. Looks great! Thanks for the link.

  4. by the way, i was looking at matsuis b-ref page…. the ad talking about arod is hilarious… it NEVER ends

  5. hey mike… if matsui stays healthy, and i realize this is a big if…. do u think theres any chance he could garner type A status next offseason?

    i mean, if hes healthy, he could easily put up 290/375/480 over like 500 ab’s… i know he missed time last year, but do u think that would be enough?

    • A.D. says:

      Missing most of a year is tough probably more like B

      • Jamal G. says:

        Although time on the DL is a negative hit on a player’s ranking, I think that they would factor in Matsui’s 2007 season in conjunction with his 2009 campaign.

        • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi says:

          Jamal – Is that based on anything other than conjecture? I’ve never heard anything other than that the rankings are based on the prior 2 seasons. Have they made that type of exception and looked at stats compiled earlier for other players who had an injury? I wouldn’t think that would make much sense – the injury factors into the player’s value, it doesn’t make sense to me to give the player a pass on that issue.

          • Jamal G. says:

            Damn, for now, yes, I would have to say it’s just conjecture because I can neither remember the author nor article of which I read that.

            • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi says:

              Yeah… I’m not an expert on the Elias rankings or anything, I’ve just never heard that they’d use another season (prior to the last 2) if a player missed significant time due to injury. I wouldn’t think they’d do that because I think the injury should factor into the player’s value (i.e. if a guy has a major injury and misses a bunch of time that may be a reason why he’d get less money/years on the open market).

      • BJ says:

        Well, who do we have penciled in for DH in 2010? If Matsui has a great year or Dunn takes a 1 year contract with no options, is it 100% we let him walk next year, especially if he has a Type A caliber season?

    • steve (different one) says:

      do u think theres any chance he could garner type A status next offseason?

      i think we need to start re-evaluating how we view the potential for compensatory draft picks.

      i don’t think the question is if he’ll be a Type A or not, i think the question is whether or not a team is going to forfeit their first or second round pick to sign an aging DH with bad knees. based on what i’ve seen this offseason, i doubt it.

      the market in terms of the value of draft picks has clearly shifted.

      the best bet to collect a pick from Matsui would probably be if he wound up a Type B.

      only the top guys who come with Type A status are getting signed (and Ibanez for some reason). no one is giving up picks for solid role player type guys.

  6. Mike Pop says:

    If he gives us a year like 07 or even a bit worse than that, I’ll take it and it would be well worth the 13 million. This lineup is going to mash.

  7. JimmieFox says:

    “While dealing with knee issues that limited him to 287 of 486 possible games over the last three years”

    He missed that many games due to knee injuries? Does that number include his broken wrist?

  8. Double-J says:

    Matsui is still probably my favorite Yankee hitter. I’m glad to see he’s still on the team this year.

  9. Dave says:

    would it be reasonable to expect matsui to replace abreu’s production in the lineup if we knew he was going to be somewhat healthy over the next season? Yes. Should we expect matsui to replace abreu’s bat in the lineup next season? No because exactly what you said – 287 out of 486. He is no longer even close to the picture of health and can go down with an injury at any time. I can completely understand when yankee fans say this is a better team than last season because we acquired three of the premier free agents in Tex, CC and AJ and traded for a high upside player in swisher for almost nothing of use. That makes complete sense because those four will be better than the players we lost via free agency or trade based on age and history of performance.

    However, I object to the comments saying we are a better team in 2009 because pettitte had an off-season to rest his shoulder, matsui/Posada replaces Giambi/Abreu in the lineup and cano will likely have a comeback season. I mean, where is this info coming from? A crystal ball that tells the future. And yea maybe pettitte will pitch better this year based on his track record but his shoulder could start bothering him again as he is a year older. Also, another starter could be plagued by injuries that we have not accounted for. Further, how can anyone assume after the last three years that matsui will have a full year of health with two terrible knees? Or assume that posada will have a complete rebound at 37 coming off MAJOR shoulder surgery?

    You want to say 2009 is a better team than 2008 AND i would certainly agree. But they are not better because we will have less in injuries or less regression in 2009 – we have injuries every single season and how can we expect multiple comeback players of the year candidates out of posada, matsui, cano AND swisher? Im not being pessimistic here, Im being realistic – there is no way to know what injured players will come back to form, what regressing players will come back to form or who else on the roster will go down with injury or ineffectiveness. iS IT logical to assume that we may have less injuries and less ineffectiveness in 09? Yes but it cannot be automatically expected on February first and used to compared the 09 team to the 08 team.

  10. Dave says:

    I would agree that the idea of a healthy year out of matsui is likely better than any possible return we could get for him in a trade but that also implies how much faith other team FOs have in his ability to perform productively over the course of a full season.

  11. AndrewYF says:

    People always forget just how good a hitter Matsui is. I predict that he will be batting fifth in the lineup before long, and not just because everyone else sucks.

    • AndrewYF says:

      Also, semi-related, Matsui was an absolute beast in July of 2007. The entire team OPS-ed .916 that month. That’s insane.

      • Mike Pop says:

        He carried my fantasy team that month. Was the most productive player in the league. Won some important matches thanks to Godzilla. Cash should of moved him for J. Sanchez though. Yuo sux Cahs.

      • Dave says:

        WOW! ONE WHOLE MONTH… Guys, its a 162 game season plus playoffs. i would take that one month of production with a grain of salt. I really think it is rather foolish to bank on a full comeback season from 4 out of 10 players. Maybe not foolish but way too optimistic for my liking. When was the last season the yanks had zero injuries? I cant even think of a single season in my lifetime.

        • Should be working says:

          Nobody is banking the whole season on comebacks. Matsui is one of the best hitters on the team and even comming back from injuries he still hit well last year. Playing at DH solely will help him stay healthy and get stronger. We dont know if Posada can hit/throw. Maybe Cano has the same season. Who knows, but we dont need 4 people who had down years or injuries to perform career years to win. We only need 1, maybe 2. The rest of the lineup can carry itself. Have a little confidence in the team.

  12. Dave says:

    I dont think anyone forgot what kind of hitter matsui was. i JUST THINK it is much more clear in the minds of most people that he has missed significant time over the last three years and has two bum knees so no one can realistically expect a full recovery at this stage of his career. Its unlikely and too optimistic to expect matsui to produce at career avg levels through 162 games. People too often forget in the off-season that injuries happen every year and expect to see the team on paper on the field every day. it is NOT going to happen that way. I like our depth but i dont think any one can expect four candidates for comeback player of the year in 09. Its highly unlikely.

  13. For such a sh*t offer I just would have kept Matsui (which they ended up doing, of course).

  14. Phil in LA says:

    In each of the last three seasons, because of the predictable inujuries of a team with a lot of over 30 talent, the Yanks have found themselves in the bat market by May. They should scotchguard against this happening again by addding Dunn.

    • Mike Pop says:

      I think this team has plenty of depth as it is now to be honest. We have 4 OF’s, 5 if you count Melky. Then they have Matsui as a DH. Yanks have plenty of pen depth and their starting depth looks alot better than last year. I’m hoping Dunn signs a 1 year deal, then look for him next year.

  15. YankFanDave says:

    It amazes me how much traction stories of a Matsui trade has gotten. A player coming off surgery with an injury history, fat contract and a full no trade clause is not ilkely to be traded any time soon. Of course his name came up in discussions as do almost all the names of the entire roster. But the talk about Matsui being traded is just way too disporportate to it’s likelihood. By the way, I like Matsui and think he is a class act and professional hitter. If healthy, he will give you offensively what Abrue did. As a DH he has a better opportunity to remain healthy so I like his chances at a typical Matsui year: 20+ hr, 100+ rbi, .290 – .300 avg, .370 obp, and .470 slg. Consider that Washburn’s averages over the last three years are: 8 – 14, 4.56 era and 178 IP. This is one of those times that a teams hands being tied turned out to be a good thing.

  16. Dave says:

    I have a question: Did Aceves or Montero come out of the International free agent draft?
    If they did, that is some solid talent but Im pretty sure they did not. I know aceves pitched in the mexican league and Montero was a cuban defector but how did the yanks land those two?

  17. Lanny says:

    Why do they keep pushing Washburn on us?

    I’d rather see Igawa out there as a 5th starter.

    But this shows you that if Pettitte didn’t resign they would have considered moving Matsui for Washburn and replacing the bat with Dunn.

    • Mike Pop says:

      You do not know if they would of signed Dunn. Washburn’s salary is almost as high as Matsui’s. I doubt that would of happened. Would of been great but I doubt it. I would think Damon/Nady would split DH duties and outfield duties. So whoever has the OF off takes the DH role, ya know. I wouldn’t even think about moving Matsui for Wash even if Pettitte didn’t come back. I’d rather see spot starts from Phil/IPK/Aceves/Humberto before that.

  18. jrz says:

    I wasnt jumping up and down to bring Pettite back in Oct. and to be honest, I would have rather seen Mussina back in the fold.Now with CC, Wang and AJ up front and Joba, Hughes and Pettite presumably at the back(not in that order, maybe) it gives them the chance to limit Joba and Hughes to 150 while keeping Andy around that mark as well.

    If Joe uses these guys the right way, I can see 75 starts from the back end and that way CC, Wang and AJ only gotta split 87 games and in my dream world everybody stays fresh for Oct.

  19. X-Man(Angel) says:

    Matsui is DONE!!

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