Could Matsui stay in New York?

A-Rod might not need second surgery
NLDS Game Three Thread: Dodgers @ Cardinals

But with the Mets? Some guy with the same name as me at MLBTR passed along this report from Newsday, where David Lennon speculates that Yanks’ DH Hideki Matsui could wind up in Flushing with the Amazin’s next year. Allow me to quote:

With Hideki Matsui telling friends he’d like to remain in New York above all else, as well as return to leftfield, it would be logical for the free agent to appear on the Mets’ radar this offseason.

In fact, Matsui is so eager to play the field again after a full year as the Yankees’ designated hitter that he’s also told people he would consider trying first base – a position he hasn’t played since high school.


One baseball official suggested that the limited duty for Matsui this season will work to his advantage in allowing him to return to the outfield. With less wear and tear at DH, it was a chance for Matsui to recharge, and another four months off during the offseason obviously will be a big help, too.

The Mets obviously need all the help they can get, but can Matsui hold up all year while playing in the field? In leftfield, I’m not so sure it could be done. Godzilla needed to have his knees drained a few times this year after doing nothing more than running hard around the bases. Maybe he could pull it off at first, but he’ll almost assuredly be a negative-UZR player there, likely Giambi-esque.

Of course, Matsui’s amazing production this year (.274-.367-.506 with 28 jacks) is going to make it real hard for the Yankees to let him walk away. Granting, he’s not worth his $13M salary, so it’s unlikely the team will offer his salary arbitration after the season, even though he projects to be a Type-A free agent. FanGraphs valued his 2009 production at $11M, though I would be shocked if he pulls down eight-figures next year. What do you guys think, does one year at $8M seem reasonable for Matsui’s services next year?

A-Rod might not need second surgery
NLDS Game Three Thread: Dodgers @ Cardinals
  • JSquared

    I’d like to see Matsui back with the Yankees.

  • Andy in Sunny Daytona

    Damon in CF, Matsui in LF and let’s say, uhh, Abreu in RF. I think the Yanks can get that done in ’10. Combined UZR -145.

    • The Three Amigos

      In Citifield Matsui would be the worst LF to ever play baseball. By himself having a negative UZR of 145.

      I was thinking more of 1 year at 5 million with the promise to let him play the field 5 times throughout the season.

  • Mike Pop

    Matsui to the Mets? Doubt it.

    Matsui back in NY for a year at 8 or 9 million? Sure, might have to take a look at Jim Thome too though.

    • Drew

      Eh, I’d rather look at Bobby to DH rather than Thome. Thome has some nasty Lefty splits.

      • anon

        I never ever ever want to see Abreu on the Yankees. Please no.

    • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      Thome’s 4 years older, has trouble with left-handed pitchers, made the same amount of money as Matsui this year and, at this point in their respective careers, Matsui’s the better hitter.

      Matsui at 1 year/$8 million? Done.

  • JMK aka The Overshare

    I can’t imagine any team, even one as senseless as the Mets, would ever let Matsui play the field. It’s defensive suicide. That said, here’s a hypothetical: Say Matsui says that he will only return if he’s allowed to play in the field. The Yanks say absolutely not. Would they offer him arbitration, betting that he’s serious, and hope another team picks it up and surrenders the picks? I doubt it, but it’s an interesting thought.

    My guess: he resigns knowing he’ll again be the DH for about $9 million.

  • Salty Buggah

    Matsui in Citi’s LF?


  • Zach Sanders

    I think $8MM is fair.

    • a realist

      Me too.

      The bigger question is does Matsui? From the article, you get the sense that he wants to and thinks he can contribute defensively, I mean 1B, really?

      That to me is a deal breaker. The Yankees have no pressing need to let Matsui go near a baseball glove or even be on the field when the pitcher is. I personally think that the DH spot is going to come in handy some day with the likes of A-Rod, Jeter, and Posada all on the wrong side of 35. Not to mention Johnny “Leather” Damon also looking like more of a DH each day. I mean I can’t think that we’re gonna resign both this winter.

  • Drew

    I’d like to have him back I guess. I wish Johnny had finished the season better because for a while there it looked like we needed them both back. There’s still time for him to impress though.

    Back to Dek, for 8 Millish I think he’d be a welcome DH. Also, I think he’d rather be with the best organization in professional sports rather than the Mets, he’s a proud man and I’d guess the Mets wouldn’t be his top choice.

  • rbizzler

    I find it highly unlikely that a team would invest in Matsui and then risk losing his offensive contributions by playing him in LF. Not to mention that those offensive contributions would be somewhat negated by the horrendous defense he will provide.

    Although, there could be an opening at 1B in Flushing if they let Delgado walk and come to terms with the fact that Daniel Murphy is not the answer to their offensive woes. But how would ‘Zilla perform defensively at 1B? It is not the most difficult position to play but he could be a butcher out there. One would think that the Amazin’s would like a more dependable option, but then again Omar never ceases to embrace head-scratching moves.

  • KDB

    Assuming the Yankees win the World Series this year, and especially if they don’t, the Yankees are going to be hard pressed to replace Matsui’s numbers. One year, while Romine, and El Montero get ready
    for prime time sounds alright. For instance, who will protect Arod?
    One of the reasons he’s hitting as well as he is, has Matsui written
    all over it. Posada is as likely as not to be injured for a large part of the year. I’m not suggesting a long, even two year contract, but I would be just as happy to have Matsui, as I would Damon, for one more year, and the contract wouldn’t have to be for two years, or more. the Yankees can find a left fielder via trade, or free agency. Don’t lose Matsui.

    • Guest

      Great point on the impact Matsui has on A-Rod.

      Given A-Rod’s numbers against Nathan and the fact that it was a 3-1 count where a bomb could tie the game, the only reason why A-Rod got a fastabll was because Hideki was hitting behind him. If the Yankee had a mediocre 5 hitter, there is no way the Twins don’t just take there chances with a breaking ball in the dirt. None.

      But because Matsui is a threat, they went with No. 1, Nathan missed his location, and there was much elation in the South Bronx.

    • Jim

      Sabermetric studies have proven that there is no such thing as “protection.” Hitters hit their expected level of production over their careers regardless of who’s hitting ahead or behind them.

      That said, I’d let Damon and Matsui walk if they could sign Holliday and Lackey. The DH spot would be open for Posada mostly, with some time for A-Rod and Jeter. You’d lose some offense, but construct an awesome rotation while giving Joba and Phil another year of on the job training (while keeping Phil from overreaching his innings limits and preventing the team from signing another Sergio Mitre).

  • Mike bk

    Axisa, I thought in the latest rankings he projects as a B not an A and the link you provided is for the B’s…big difference in whether the risk of arb would be worth it.

    With guys like Matsui and Damon who have stated publicly their desire to come back to NY, why not have them prove it by agreeing to decline arbitration as a signed of good faith to the organization and work on deals to bring 1 or both back for another year. If it doesnt work out then we get picks. I know it is unlikely the players would agree to this, but if they really want to come back as they keep politicing in the media time to put up or shut up about it.

    • Mike bk

      I also think Damon in left field for the mets is more likely than Matsui in queens. Matsui should go play with Ichiro in Seattle as they need a power bat and even if they stick him in the field part of the time their other of’s can more than make up for his defense.

      • Blakes

        Matsui and Ichiro hate each other. I dont think that’s going to work.

        • JMK aka The Overshare

          [citation needed]

          • DreDog

            Don’t all Japanese people hate each other? Or is that Fighting Fish.

            • pon

              Not hate.
              Just because a tiger doesn’t want to live with a lion.

  • The Fallen Phoenix

    I think the really hard question the Yankees need to ask themselves is how much they expect Matsui to regress next year, given that he is going to be 36 next year, and still a couple of years removed from knee surgery. Matsui is fast approaching the age that hitters traditionally start falling off cliffs. Remember, Giambi had a very good offensive season last year (.377 wOBA), and then his power almost completely evaporated this year (contributing greatly to his .327 wOBA split between the A’s and Rockies).

    Matsui also had a pretty big power spike this year – posting his highest career IsoP in the majors – and even if it could largely be attributed to YSIII (Matsui’s HR/FB rate did jump three points over his career rate this year), chances are probably good he won’t repeat that performance next year.

    So if Matsui’s power numbers were to slip back towards his career norms next year, and he remained as healthy as he was this year, sure, Matsui would probably give you around $8 million value, and the Yankees don’t have any surefire in-house replacements for that kind of offensive production next year. But if Matsui’s power reverts to his career norms and he either regresses in other offensive areas or misses a significant chunk of the season due to injury, the Yankees might be looking at a reasonably large sunk cost.

    Personally? I’d been leaning towards bringing Damon back as the DH and letting Matsui walk, but I think I’d trust Matsui to regress less than Damon would, and as good as a Cabrera/Gardner/Swisher outfield might be defensively, it probably wouldn’t offset the loss of offensive production even if Matsui and/or Damon regressed.

    • dc1874

      Giambi….bloated ex-juicer…vision problems..hardy partier.!!!!..Matsui..except for his knees…is healthier…

  • dan

    offer Matsui and Damon one year at 5M plus incentives which can make it 8+ to be the primary DH. The first to sign gets it and goodbye to the other. We need the DH spot about 3-4 times a week for A-Rod, Jeter, and Posada and to give others an occasional rest. Matsui is a one dimensional player and Damon is breaking down before our eyes. Even one year is a risk. Any loss of power would be more than replaced by far greater OF defense and overall team speed.

    • Slu

      I like this idea. At this point I can’t see keeping both. I’d rather have Matsui than Damon and find a LF somewhere else. And it does not need to be Holliday or Bay either.

    • pat

      Hey Buster Olney, Arod isnt going to need to DH for at least 3 or 4 years. Posada is only under contract for 2 more years and Jeter has actually progressed in fielding and agility this year. We will definitely not need the dh spot 3-4 times next year. A fulltime designated hitter is a very wise investment. If Hideki walks I’m looking to give Washington Ivan Nova and Zach McAllister for Adam Dunn

      • dan

        Think a little bit. WE do not need the dh full time for any of Jeter, ARod or Jorge. It would be nice howevere to give them a little rest but keep their bat in the lineup. With these aging stare we need to preserve some dh opportunities. Also if you are fixated with getting poor defense in lf by getting Dunn, why not just keep Damon?

        • pat

          Damon in LF Dunn as DH.

  • DreDog

    I am greedy. I want draft picks!!!
    Why can’t the Yankees have a Type-A free agent that has made it public that he will decline his arbitration only to make half on the market?


    This seems fairly standard pre-negotiating talk on the part of Matsui and his agent. I am sure that Hideki is telling “friends” a lot of things–he wants to play left field, he’d consider playing first, he’d welcome playing for a minor league tea… I mean the Mets.

    It is most likely true that, given the options, he would like to stay in New York. Of course, he can only say this in so many words without completely giving up any leverage that he has. So, it becomes, I would “prefer” to stay in New York–where I can DH in a park where I have had success and with a roster geared for the post-season–but would consider going elsewhere, including the Mets.

    In agent-speak, staying with the Yankees = likes “New York” = would “consider” going to the Mets = ultimately a 1 year deal next year at 8M + incentives to remain with the Yankees. The incentives might be overpaying, but they will happen and ultimately, in the scheme of things, will not cost the Yankees much.

    The point is, the Yankees provide Matsui with the most opportunities for success and Matsui’s bad is still productive and thus an important part of their “circular” line-up.

    • DreDog

      Maybe he(his agent) is saying he wants to play the field is that it will help his arbitration case just in acse he is offered. Although, I admit, I am not sure it works that way.

  • Will

    I think we need to try to bring back Damon and Matsui. Otherwise, we could end up with Melky and Gardner in the starting lineup.

    • whozat

      That sort of assumes that there’s no possible better option out there via trade or free agency, which doesn’t seem to be true.

  • http://howwouldithurtthemets? godfather

    defensively, hideki is better than nothing, which is what nym usually had in left; practically, i think nyy should try to get him back at maybe 8 or so…another thing i like is the three-catcher effect…depending on what else they do, jorge could be like no. 3 behind the plate, dh now and then, and leave the squatting to frankie and jose…keeping as many security blankets as they do pitching is playing scared…hideki might be an lf load, but he loads the lineup as well…let the mets go fish

  • E-ROC

    I thought the Mets were going to avoid injury prone players. I question whether Damon or Matsui could provide anything close to the production of this year. They will be a year older, and Damon defense probably won’t get any better. How bad Matsui wants to play the field could factor into his decision to return to the Yanks. If the Mets or some other offers Matsui $8 million with a chance to play in the field, I think he’ll pass on the Yanks.

  • t

    Wouldn’t giving Matsui a deal with heavy incentives based on playing time be the smart choice? Not sure if it is possible but what about 4 guarenteed/5 in incentives. We need a full time DH for the playoffs/important games. Hairston can play during the regular season but there are many games where we need the best lineup possible.

  • Mike bk

    carl crawford is the obvious if tb has a brain cramp and doesnt pick up his option even if for no reason than to trade him, but what about Jayson Werth? HR’s, SB’s. K’s too much but does walk a good amount so solid OBP and solid defense with an excellent arm.

  • Grover

    Is Austin Jackson ready to assume CF why not let both Matsui and Damon walk and move Melky and Gardner to LF? The Yanks are an aging team and I believe Gardner made the catch Damon missed last night. Standing pat would be a mistake.

    With that said the free agent starters are weak this year and I fall in to the camp of signing the Bedards and/or Sheets to one year incentive -laden deals. The worst contract in baseball is Vernon Wells and one of the most desirable pitchers for trade is Haliday. Add in a new GM who can rip it apart and rebuild and you have the makings of a monumental trade. The downside is clearly Well’s contract in 2011 & 2012 but I think he hits away from Toronto, the Yanks lineup provides protection and they are probably the only team that could absorb such a bad contract. He’s no longer a good center fielder but his arm is strong and he could move to a corner position. I think the cost would be surprisingly low meaning quantity over quality. Maybe Jackson, Cervelli, Pena, and minor league arms might be enough.

  • EB

    If the Yankees re-sign Molina and go with 3 catchers, hitdeki wont be back. But if theyre confident in Cerveli catching 60-70 games then Matsui returns and splits DH with Posada

  • pon

    Reasonable money is meaningless because some clubs can offer reasonable money. The club that can land a FA player must offer more money than reasonable money. Remember the contract of Posada or A-Rod. You should remember that Matsui’s production was almost as good as that of A-Rod this season.

  • yankeewanabe

    i prefer damon over matsui and open dh a way station for posada and damon. also go for holiday even if we have to take wells as that would lower the cost of holliday.

  • Bill O

    I’d love to have both Matsui and Damon back. If Matsui wants to play the field every once in a while I’d let him. Damon is not playing LF everyday. Also if he could play RF once in a while he could take Hinske’s time there.

    However the Yankees don’t need to bring either of these guys back. Damon would be a great sign because we do need a LF, but there are plenty of free agents. With that in mind I’d offer them deals in the 1 year 6-8M range. Maybe a little more for Damon, but Matsui may be at the lower end of that. I think 1 year 6M with the promise of some playing time in the field is more than fair.

    The Mets aren’t going to sign Matsui unless they think he could be a good 1B. Even still they’re probably more likely to go after Nick Johnson there.

  • Pingback: Mets asked for Matsui’s medicals | River Avenue Blues