Hideki Matsui Rumors

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.

Quick Hits: Marquis, Aaron Hill, Ellis, Matsui

Dan Uggla's incredible 33-game hitting streak came to an end today. The Braves' slugger batted an insane .377/.438/.762 over that stretch with 15 homers, good for an even 1.200 OPS. Remarkably though, he still falls 23 games short of Joe DiMaggio's immortal record. Here are your Sunday links:

  • After fracturing a fibula today, new Diamondbacks acquisition Jason Marquis will miss four to six weeks.  SI's Jon Heyman tweets that it sounds like the team's inclination is to replace Marquis internally.  The Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro doesn't think the team will go with top draft pick Trevor Bauer for the rotation spot, but notes that it's not crazy to suggest it.  The 20-year-old Bauer tossed five scoreless innings today in his Double-A debut.
  • Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos told MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm, "We’re always open minded for Aaron [Hill] still being a long-term part of this team."  Anthopoulos notes that Hill has flashed his talent at times this year.  It's tough to picture the Jays picking up Hill's $8MM club option, but maybe they can work something out.
  • Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post tweets that he would be surprised if the Rockies don't re-sign second baseman Mark Ellis.  The 34-year-old had a .267/.304/.382 line in 139 plate appearances heading into tonight's action.
  • If Bob Melvin is managing the Athletics again in 2012, he wants them to bring Hideki Matsui back, writes John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. Matsui had just a .617 OPS in the season's first half, but has risen from the ashes to post a .410/.470/.630 slash line in 26 games since the All-Star Break.
  • Similarly, the Cubs and Carlos Pena both seem to be open to working out a new deal, writes Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com.  On a related note, ESPN's Buster Olney hears that "in some important corners of the Cubs' front office, there is concern about investing huge money in one player this winter."  In other words, the Cubs' brass might be wary of signing Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder to play first base.
  • Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review wonders if the Pirates can follow the path to prominence that their division rivals, the Brewers, followed to escape a similar tradition of losing.
  • Olney tweets that in three days, Drew Pomeranz can officially become the player to be named later from last month's Ubaldo Jimenez trade with the Indians. Pomeranz is expected to report to the Rockies' Double-A affiliate in Tulsa.

Tim Dierkes contributed to this post.

Heyman On Astros, Adams, Matsui, Yankees

Incoming Astros owner Jim Crane has ordered a decrease in payroll from $76MM to $60MM, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com. Here’s the latest on Houston’s deadline plans and other notes from around MLB:

Athletics Notes: Weeks, Matsui, Anderson, Draft

Jemile Weeks collects walks just like his older brother Rickie, but while the elder Weeks hits for power, Jemile is more of a contact hitter, writes Fangraphs' Jack Moore in his analysis of the two Weeks brothers.  Jemile went 0-for-4 in his Major League debut last night for the A's, leading off and playing second base.

Here are some more items from Oakland, courtesy of Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle

  • "Hideki Matsui's future is cloudy" with the A's, but the veteran may get one more stint of regular playing time to see if he can turn around his disappointing season.  As Slusser notes, Matsui has been a better hitter in the second half of the season (a career .855 OPS after the All-Star break), but the team might not want to wait that long.  I'd suggest Oakland could probably trade Matsui to a contender for a low-profile prospect rather than release him for nothing.
  • Right-hander Graham Godfrey will make his Major League debut in a start against the White Sox on Friday.  The A's will have to make a 40-man roster move to make room for Godfrey and Slusser guesses the team will have to designate someone for assignment.  That is, unless, the A's have already gotten word that Brett Anderson will need Tommy John surgery and he can be moved to the 60-day DL.  Anderson will get a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews next week.
  • While the A's are struggling right now, "I don't see Billy Beane pulling the plug in early June no matter how many injuries they've absorbed, or even if Anderson does need Tommy John surgery."  Slusser notes that "Josh Willingham's name is definitely out there" in terms of trade rumors.
  • Oakland's late-round draft picks included Brett Geren (manager Bob Geren's son) in the 42nd round and Shane Boras (son of agent Scott Boras) in the 39th round.  Shane is the second Boras child to be drafted in this year's amateur draft; his brother Trent was taken in the 30th round by the Brewers.
  • Andy LaRoche has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A, Slusser tweets.  LaRoche was designated for assignment by the Athletics on Monday.

Quick Hits: White, Matsui, Morales

Links for Wednesday as the Phillies adjust to the possibility of losing Chase Utley for a while. Click here for Tim Dierkes' list of alternatives for the Phillies and keep reading for today's links…

Odds & Ends: Rauch, Rays, Jenks, Rockies, Rangers

On this date in 1997, the Red Sox traded Tony Armas Jr. and Carl Pavano to the Expos for reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Pedro Martinez. A case can be made that Pedro's 1999 and 2000 seasons were the two best pitching seasons in baseball history, in which he held batters to a .186/.231/.274 batting line with 597 strikeouts in 430.1 innings.

It's highly unlikely that we'll see a pitcher of Pedro's caliber traded anytime soon, but that Zack Greinke kid is pretty good in his own right. Here are today's links…

  • Two days ago we heard that the Rockies had interest in David Aardsma, Grant Balfour, and Todd Coffey, and now Troy Renck of The Denver post throws Jon Rauch's name into the mix.
  • Marc Topkin of The St. Petersburg Times has some quotes from Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg, who called the size of free agent contracts being handed out this winter "discouraging." He also commented (briefly) on the team's 2011 payroll.
  • Bobby Jenks will take his physical on Monday, tweets Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe. It was originally scheduled for today but was pushed back, and it's necessary to finalize his contract with the Red Sox.
  • Renck also has the goods (Twitter links) on two recent Rockies signings.  Ty Wigginton took less money to sign in Colorado, earning $3.5MM in 2011, $4MM in '12, and a club option for $4MM in '13 ($500k buyout).  Meanwhile, pitcher Eric Stults has an out in his $435k minor league deal that will allow him to sign with the Hiroshima Carp if he does not make the big league roster.
  • Richard Durrett of ESPN.com applauds the Rangers' efforts to bolster their starting depth.
  • Dan Wheeler is happy to be a member of Boston's improved bullpen, writes MLB.com's Ian Browne.
  • ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tweets that Seth McClung's deal with the Rangers will pay him $700K if he makes the team. There are another $700K available in bonuses tied to the number of starts he makes.
  • Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker passes along a report (via Twitter) indicating that Hideki Matsui's contract with the A's has a limited no-trade clause preventing trades to the Mariners, Orioles, Twins, Blue Jays, Indians, and Royals.
  • Mariano Rivera told Erik Boland of Newsday that he plans to give long-time teammate Andy Pettitte a call to try to convince the lefty to come back for another season.
  • Finding a left-handed bat off the bench is one of the last remaining items on the Marlins offseason agenda, but MLB.com's Joe Frisaro says they might already have that guy on their roster. Catcher John Baker, who is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery, said he would be up for the job until he's cleared to catch again.
  • Former Mets GM Omar Minaya told Ian Begley of ESPN New York that he plans to sit down with new GM Sandy Alderson after the holidays to discuss a potential new role with the team. Minaya said he has several offers on the table, including interest from the Diamondbacks.
  • Hey iPhone users, do you have the MLBTR app yet? Jason Bartlett does, and that's how he found out his trade to the Padres was in the works.

Athletics Sign Hideki Matsui

The Athletics have officially signed Hideki Matsui to a one-year deal, $4.25MM deal.  Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle broke the news yesterday and ESPN's Buster Olney tweeted the amount today.  Agent Arn Tellem of WMG represents Matsui.

The 36-year-old Matsui arrived in the AL West last year and batted .274/.361/.459 in 554 plate appearances, mostly while serving as the Angels' designated hitter. Matsui hit 21 homers and 24 doubles in his first MLB season on a team other than the Yankees.

NPB Tracker's Patrick Newman passes along a report (via Twitter) indicating that Matsui's contract with the A's has a limited no-trade clause preventing trades to the Mariners, Orioles, Twins, Blue Jays, Indians, and Royals.

Athletics, Hideki Matsui Could Be Close To Agreement

MONDAY, 6:54am: Slusser writes that "the deal might be finalized today, with a news conference likely to be held Tuesday if the details are finalized in time."  SI's Jon Heyman believes a deal would be for around $7MM a year.

SUNDAY, 10:46pm: Slusser says that even though Matsui has not yet visited Oakland, the A's are the front runner to sign him with no close second. She's heard about a possible one-year, $5MM contract, but believes that might be low given the two-year, $16MM offer they made to Berkman.

9:35pm: Susan Slusser of The San Francisco Chronicle says that the two sides could reach an agreement as early as this week (Twitter links). She adds that Arn Tellem, Matsui's agent, wanted to get proposals this weekend with a decision to follow.

8:10pm: The Athletics could be close to an agreement with Hideki Matsui, tweets Joe Stiglich of the Bay Area News Group. Oakland has had trouble getting free agents to take their money this offseason, most notably getting spurned by Adrian Beltre and Lance Berkman.

Matsui has been connected to the A's pretty much all offseason. The 2009 World Series MVP hit .274/.361/.459 with 21 homers for the Angels this past season, though he was much more impressive after the calendar flipped to June (.300/.392/.498). The 36-year-old Matsui could slot right in at DH for Oakland, though he did make 18 appearances in the outfield in 2010. 

DH Rumors: Vlad, Matsui, Thames, Glaus, Manny

The Mariners may have locked up a DH today, but that leaves the Orioles, A's and many others as potential destinations for positionless sluggers. Here's the latest:

Orioles Rumors: Hardy, Matsui, Thome, Uehara

The O's are talking about a J.J. Hardy trade with the Twins. Here are some more Orioles updates from Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun

  • The team did not offer Carlos Pena or Paul Konerko contracts before the first basemen signed in Chicago, according to president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail.
  • It's likely that the team's shortstop will be Hardy, Jason Bartlett, Brendan Ryan or Cesar Izturis, MacPhail said. The Padres appear to be close to a deal for Bartlett, which would limit the Orioles' options.
  • MacPhail says the club has expressed interest in a number of DH types. Vladimir Guerrero, Hideki Matsui and Jim Thome are believed to be among the team's targets.
  • The team, which selects fourth in tomorrow's Rule 5 draft, is considering a number of players.
  • There are no updates on Kevin Gregg, but Zrebiec reported yesterday that the team has offered the former Blue Jays closer a two-year deal.
  • Troy Renck of the Denver Post hears (on Twitter) that Nick Green could end up in Baltimore.