Trade Candidate: Hideki Matsui

The Phillies are looking for a left-handed bat for the stretch run and they’re surely not the only team interested in adding offense from the left side. Few hitters have been hotter since the All-Star break than Hideki Matsui, who has five homers and a .385/.439/.573 line in 132 second half plate appearances. 

Matsui has cleared waivers, which means the A’s can now trade him to any team. He makes $4.25MM this year on a deal that expires after the season and only $960K or so remains on his salary, so interested teams wouldn’t have to make a major financial commitment.

One factor that could limit the Athletics’ interest in moving their DH is his projected Type B ranking. Assuming Matsui finishes the season as a Type B free agent, the A’s could offer arbitration and collect a supplemental first round pick in next year’s draft if the 37-year-old slugger declines the offer and signs elsewhere. The A’s front office might very well prefer an extra draft choice to an extra $960K.

But for the A’s to obtain such a pick, they’d have to be prepared to bring Matsui back in 2012. Despite his hot streak, Matsui has career lows in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage and his season line sits at .263/.336/.403, which is slightly worse than the average American League DH (.264/.342/.422). 

Unless the A’s have assurances that Matsui will turn an offer of arbitration down (it wouldn’t hurt him to turn their offer down), they can’t be confident in their ability to end up with a draft pick rather than a positionless 38-year-old whose overall production is in decline. As a result, dealing Matsui might appeal to the small market A’s if they can secure $1MM in salary relief. The cash might help them more than Matsui’s hot bat and the possibility of a draft choice.

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