Hideki Matsui Likely To Return To Oakland

There’s a good chance that Hideki Matsui will re-sign with the A’s in 2012, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. There was already a strong possibility that Matsui would return and today’s news that the A’s and Mariners will open next year’s schedule in Tokyo only boosts the chances that he’ll spend another year with his current team.

Though the Athletics’ uncertain stadium situation could impact all free agent decisions, including ones related to Matsui, he’s more likely to return than any of Oakland’s other free agents. One A’s official told Slusser that Matsui is the one free agent the team would “seriously consider for a number of reasons.”

Team president Mike Crowley told Slusser that MLB would be “very happy” if the A's had Matsui on their roster to open the season against Ichiro Suzuki’s Mariners. That’s far from the driving force behind the team’s interest, though. Matsui, who definitely intends to play in 2012, will be available on a one-year deal and would probably not cost much more than $2MM, according to Slusser. He got along well with manager Bob Melvin and the A’s consider him a positive role model for young players. Plus, Matsui’s presence on the roster generates revenue in the form of sponsorships and merchandise sales.

Matsui, 37, has a .252/.322/.377 line with 12 homers in 581 plate appearances this season and does not project as a ranked free agent. He has recovered from a slow start to produce better results in the second half (.758 OPS since July 1st).

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