Hideki Matsui Rumors
The weather is now cooperating in the Bronx as the Rays looks to put an end to their three-game skid tonight against the Yankees. Here's a look at Tampa Bay and other items out of the American League East..
- If called up to the majors, Hideki Matsui will make a salary of about $900K, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Last season, the veteran earned $4.25MM with Oakland, the previous low of his career. In the meantime, Matsui will earn $10K a month with Triple-A Durham.
- Jeff Keppinger's absence from the Rays and placement on the restricted list is related to his ongoing divorce case, writes Topkin. Keppinger's case is set to go before a judge on May 29th when the Rays are at home facing the White Sox. Within the Matsui article, Topkin notes that the infielder could still get paid for missed games with MLB approval.
- While some have speculated that the Yankees could look to fortify the backend of their bullpen with an out-of-house addition, Mariano Rivera likes what he has seen out of David Robertson, writes Bryan Hoch of MLB.com.
The Rays formally introduced Hideki Matsui today, but they face the possibility that their best player will hit the disabled list. The details...
- Rays executive VP of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said he's had interest in Matsui in recent offseasons, according to Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune (Twitter links). Though there's no formal out clause in Matsui's contract, Friedman said the Rays will treat the slugger with the respect he deserves. Presumably this means they'll release him if there's no room on Tampa Bay's roster and he asks to pursue other opportunities.
- Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times suggested earlier today that Evan Longoria could miss six to eight weeks with a hamstring-related injury, but Friedman says it's "premature" to assume he'll even hit the disabled list. Reid Brignac and Will Rhymes are among the team's internal options in case Longoria does require DL time.
- Jorge Cantu, who elected free agency yesterday, won't be a fit for the Rays, Topkin tweets. The Devil Rays signed Cantu as an amateur free agent soon after their inception in 1998, and the infielder played in Tampa Bay until 2007.
9:29pm: Marc Topkin of The Tampa Bay Times hears the team has not given Matsui any guarantees or promises about a call-up to the big leagues (Twitter link). Godzilla will likely join their Triple-A affiliate in mid-May.
10:13am: The Rays announced that they signed Hideki Matsui to a minor league contract. Matsui, who turns 38 in June, will report to extended Spring Training on Wednesday.
“Over the past two decades, Hideki has been one of the most consistently productive hitters in the world,” Rays executive VP of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. “We are happy to add his ability, approach and professionalism to our organization.”
Matsui spent last year with the Athletics and posted a .251/.321/.375 line with 12 home runs and 28 doubles in 585 plate appearances. However, he finished strong, posting a .295/.353/.425 line in the second half. Matsui, a Wasserman Media Group client, has been preparing for the 2012 season in the New York area, according to Jack Curry of the YES Network, who first reported that the sides were nearing a deal.
Mike Axisa contributed to this post.
The Rays are expected to sign designated hitter Hideki Matsui, Jack Curry of the YES Network reports (Twitter links). Matsui, who turns 38 in June, could sign a minor league contract with the Rays before long.
Matsui spent last year with the Athletics and posted a .251/.321/.375 line with 12 home runs and 28 doubles in 585 plate appearances. However, he finished strong, posting a .295/.353/.425 line in the second half. Matsui, a Wasserman Media Group client, has been preparing for the 2012 season in the New York area, according to Curry.
Angels GM Jerry Dipoto recently said that it's unlikely the club will work out an extension with Erick Aybar before Opening Day. However, Dipoto acknowledged that it's very much a possibility that the club will work out a new deal with the shortstop. Here's more on Aybar and other notes from around the baseball...
- Zack Greinke helped the Brewers evaluate pitchers prior to the draft according to MLB.com's Adam McCalvy, asking to see video of prospects before the team chose hurlers Taylor Jungmann and Jed Bradley in the first round. Tom Haudricourt of The Journal Sentinel says (on Twitter) that Greinke is at Arizona State scouting right-hander Brady Rodgers with Craig Counsell tonight.
- Within this article comparing the Phillies to the late-90s Indians, Sam Donnellon of The Philadelphia Daily News says the Tribe had a deal in place to acquire Curt Schilling in 2000. "I banged hard on that one," said then-Indians GM John Hart when asked how he felt after the deal fell through.
- Aybar told reporters that he hopes to remain with the Angels beyond this season, writes Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. The 28-year-old declined to go into details about the kind of deal he’s looking for, but the Halos might not be willing to shell out major money for him with prospect Jean Segura in the fold.
- The Mets were the only club to watch Scott Kazmir throw yesterday and Sandy Alderson didn't exactly offer a ringing endorsement of the pitcher, tweets Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. A reunion between the club and left-hander is unlikely, according to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com (via Twitter).
- Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (via Twitter) spoke with someone that said Hideki Matsui isn't close to signing anywhere. The veteran will likely wait and see which teams have needs as spring training goes on.
Here's the latest from baseball's two West divisions...
- The Giants are not in the market for outfielders such as Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, and Bobby Abreu according to Hank Schulman of The San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter). They feel the lineup is too lefty-heavy as it is, and defense is a concern as well.
- Ivan Rodriguez has fielded a few inquiries according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter), including one from the Diamondbacks. Pudge seeks a job with "real playing time," however.
- Angels manager Mike Scioscia told MLB.com that he believes he can find regular playing time for Abreu, and that the veteran hitter won't be a distraction after saying he wanted to be traded.
- The Dodgers have signed left-hander Brent Leach, reports Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus (on Twitter). The 29-year-old reliever appeared in 38 games for the Dodgers in 2009 (5.75 ERA), but spent last season in Japan.
The Yankees freed up some money yesterday by agreeing to trade A.J. Burnett to the Pirates for two minor leaguers and a total of $13MM in salary relief. They'll save $5MM in 2012 and $8MM in 2013. Reports indicate that they're expected to sign both Raul Ibanez and Eric Chavez once the trade becomes official.
Chavez will fill out the bench like last year, but Ibanez would step in as the left-handed half of a DH platoon with Andruw Jones. Even though Spring Training is right around the corner, there is no shortage of DH-type bats on the open market as our Free Agent Tracker shows. If the Yankees were to decide to pass on Ibanez, they could always turn to Vladimir Guerrero or former Yankees Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui. Guerrero is a right-handed hitter, however. They also signed Russell Branyan to a minor league contract recently.
Given Yankee Stadium's short right field porch and the presence of Jones, it makes sense for the Yankees to pursue a left-handed bat. Ibanez hit .245/.289/.419 overall last year but .256/.307/.440 against righties, which is good but not great. Damon (.255/.314/.401) and Matsui (.242/.318/.336) weren't any better against righties, and in fact Guerrero outperformed all three of those guys against northpaws (.291/.315/.428). The Yankees have no shortage of DH options, but which one is the best?
The A's agreed to extend GM Billy Beane through 2019 this week, but the offseason hasn't quite ended, so it's time to look ahead to Beane's next move. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle and others have the details on the team's plans...
- Beane said he's looking to sign a DH for the middle of the lineup, Joe Stiglich of the Bay Area News Group tweets. The GM added that it's not easy to find a cleanup hitter right now.
- A's scouts saw Ramirez work out recently and they're interested, ESPN.com's Buster Olney confirms (Twitter link). A final decision on whether to try to sign him is expected within the next week.
- The A's continue pursuing Manny Ramirez and they're much more interested in him than Magglio Ordonez. Ordonez's health is more of a concern, Slusser writes. Signing Ramirez would be the last thing the A's do before starting Spring Training, and a deal could be reached after camp opens.
- People in the A's organization are intrigued by Kila Ka'aihue's power and if the A's sign Ramirez, Ka'aihue would likely get the chance to DH while Ramirez sits out his 50-game suspension.
- The A's have some interest in free agent DH Hideki Matsui, but he's a "real long-shot," Slusser reports. They've had some talks about Johnny Damon, who might be out of the team's price range.
- The A's are considering Koji Uehara, Slusser confirms. ESPN.com’s Buster Olney says “nothing is close” regarding Uehara and that the Rangers are looking to obtain a good return in talks with Baltimore (Twitter link). Ken Rosenthal reported Oakland's interest over the weekend.
The Yankees are considering adding a left-handed hitter and could sign Raul Ibanez, Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui within a week, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney writes. Adding one of the veterans would provide the Yankees with a weapon against right-handed pitching for their open DH spot.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said last week that he would like to see GM Brian Cashman add a bat before Opening Day. The skipper suggested he'd prefer a lefty hitter, someone who can complement the right-handed hitting Andruw Jones. The Yankees will explore alternatives before the July 31st trade deadline if they aren’t getting enough production from their DHs, Olney tweets.
Only one MLB team outscored the 2011 Yankees, but manager Joe Girardi wouldn’t object if GM Brian Cashman adds one more bat to the roster before Opening Day. MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports that Girardi suggested he’d prefer a left-handed hitter and openly discussed free agents Johnny Damon, Raul Ibanez and Hideki Matsui.
"I think we've had a good offseason; I think Brian has done a really good job this offseason in what he's done,” he said. “But I think it's important to our club that you add that other bat. The American League is going to be tough."
Girardi said he’d prefer to add a left-handed hitter, though the club won't rule out right-handed bats. A lefty hitter would provide Girardi with a complement to Andruw Jones, who has power from the right side. The skipper acknowledged that Damon, Matsui and Ibanez have historically been strong offensive players, but cautioned that it’s too early to say which of those left-handed hitters, if any, are serious targets for the Yankees. Damon and Vladimir Guerrero appear to be seeking $5MM contracts for 2012.