Hideki Matsui Rumors
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.
11:53pm: Knobler indicates that Oswalt has turned the Tigers down even though they were very interested in signing him (Twitter links). They even had Justin Verlander make a recruiting call. He says the Tigers are likely to leave the fifth starter's job up for grabs in Spring Training.
9:01am: The Tigers have some interest in Hideki Matsui and Raul Ibanez, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports on Twitter. Victor Martinez will likely miss the entire season with a torn ACL, so Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski is in the market for a designated hitter.
The Tigers are considering free agents Johnny Damon and Juan Pierre, but might rely on internal options at DH. Matsui, Ibanez, Pierre and Damon all bat from the left side, but club could consider right-handed bats such as Vladimir Guerrero, Magglio Ordonez and Derrek Lee. Both Matsui and Ibanez have been linked to the Yankees, another club that may add a designated hitter.
The Tigers have also shown interest in Roy Oswalt, according to Knobler. While Jacob Turner and others are candidates to start for Detroit, the team is considering ways of adding starting pitching depth before Opening Day. Knobler says it appears unlikely that the Tigers will sign Oswalt, which matches up with what Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reported yesterday.
There has been some contact between Hideki Matsui and the Yankees this offseason, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. The Yankees, who have also been in touch with Johnny Damon, appear to have just $1-2MM to spend on a DH. That would likely be enough to sign the 37-year-old Matsui, who’s coming off a disappointing season in Oakland.
Matsui posted a .251/.321/.375 line with 12 homers in 583 plate appearances last year. He recovered from a slow start to produce better results in the second half (.753 OPS after July 1st), but the average DH posted a .265/.340/.429 line in 2011, so the positionless Matsui hasn’t drawn much interest. A return to Oakland doesn’t seem likely and no other teams have been publicly linked to the Wasserman Media Group client.
Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, MLB.com's Jane Lee, and Joe Stiglich of the Bay Area News Group bring us some Athletics-related tidbits out of Dallas...
- The Royals have some interest in Gio Gonzalez, and one scout views them as a good match for the A's, given Kansas City's deep farm system.
- GM Billy Beane has no reservations about trading with other teams in the AL West.
- Beane says he's had trade talks in some form with about half the teams in the league so far at the meetings.
- Hideki Matsui likely won't be back in Oakland, since the team has other in-house options and would like to "stay young."
- The A's will also be looking to stay young in trades, as they'd be targeting players younger than those they'd be dealing.
- Beane says the A's may explore short-term free agent signings to fill the club's outfield if he can't work out any trades.
- There's still no word on an official date for a decision on the team's stadium situation, but Beane remains optimistic that he'll hear soon.
- The A's discussed a deal with Laynce Nix before he signed with the Phillies.
All three of the Athletics’ starting outfielders hit free agency this offseason and with so much uncertainty surrounding the team's future, retaining the trio won't be easy. Here's the latest on the Athletics from Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle:
- Agent Matt Sosnick told Slusser that the A’s “aren’t going to make an offer” to Josh Willingham unless they get a decision on their stadium situation first. It doesn’t appear that the A’s are currently able to offer a multiyear deal, according to Sosnick.
- Coco Crisp’s agent, Steve Comte, has a similar take on Oakland’s willingness to spend and says GM Billy Beane is limited by the the team’s uncertain stadium situation. “It is difficult,” Comte told Slusser. “I feel bad for any organization that is in the quagmire the A's are in because they do have to overpay to get good players to go there.”
- Crisp is looking to play for a competitive West Coast team and the Giants are a “viable” option for him, according to Comte.
- Slusser reports that Oakland's interest in bringing Hideki Matsui back has cooled off.
- The A’s are expected to offer Willingham (Type A) and David DeJesus (Type B) arbitration, as Slusser notes.
Here are a handful of interesting notes from around baseball's West divisions:
- The Athletics' interest in re-signing impending free agent DH Hideki Matsui is waning, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Oakland wants to get younger, according to Slusser, and Matsui, now 37, doesn't fit that bill. A return isn't entirely impossible, though, and A's GM Billy Beane will meet with Matsui's agent, Arn Tellem of Wasserman Media Group, next week.
- Angels owner Arte Moreno said that the Halos' 2012 payroll will be in the $130-140MM range, according to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link), which would prevent them from pursuing any expensive free agents. In the Angels' installment of MLBTR's Offseason Outlook series, Ben Nicholson-Smith calculated that the Angels will have about $120MM on the books before accounting for players making the league minimum, so new GM Jerry Dipoto will have about $10-20MM to play with.
- Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson's 2013 club option vested when the Snakes reached the playoffs this year, according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The D'Backs almost certainly would have picked up the option anyway considering Gibson's success in his first full season as skipper, but Arizona's postseason berth assured it. Gibson's coaches have all been extended through 2013, as well.
- D'Backs GM Kevin Towers will focus on position players this offseason rather than pitchers, according to Steve Gilbert of MLB.com, with second base being a key spot of interest. It's been expected that Aaron Hill's $8MM 2012 club option will be declined, though Arizona would like to re-sign him, according to Gilbert.
- Towers doesn't expect to find a new vice president of scouting and player development, the position vacated by Dipoto, according to Piecoro. As well, Towers and Dipoto will hash out which executives the latter will be allowed to bring to Anaheim, with director of international scouting Carlos Gomez expected to be a person of interest in those talks. "That'd be a tough one," Towers said. "He's good. International guys are hard to find, especially young guys. He is under contract. I plan on offering him even a second year."
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).
The Athletics currently project for the ninth pick in next year's draft, though that could change by the end of Wednesday. The latest A's info, courtesy of Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle:
- Coco Crisp's agent Steve Comte agreed with Matt Sosnick's comments about the Athletics' offseason spending hinging on MLB's decision on the team's new stadium. Comte hasn't spoken to A's GM Billy Beane recently, but noted the long-term impact of the stadium issue was apparent back in Spring Training. Nonetheless, Crisp and his agent will keep an open mind and "see what the market brings." Crisp, 31, has a .267/.317/.384 line in 575 plate appearances, with 48 steals in 57 tries. It's been Crisp's healthiest year since '07, but he's posted his worst walk rate since '06. UZR suggests his defense was slightly below-average this year, but Crisp's ability to simply play a passable center field regularly makes him valuable. Given the state of the free agent market at the position, I think a two-year deal is probable. Slusser's sources expect the Giants to be interested.
- Signing Brandon McCarthy for a $1MM base salary was one of the best moves of the offseason, and the 28-year-old righty considers his season a successful comeback. For less than $2MM in total, he's provided a 3.32 ERA, 6.5 K/9, 1.3 BB/9, 0.58 HR/9, and 46.7% groundball rate in 170 2/3 innings. His ERA ranks 13th in the American League and his five complete games tie him for second. The cherry on top: McCarthy is arbitration eligible for 2012 and should be affordable again.
- Slusser talked to A's outfielder David DeJesus, who said, "This year wasn't me. I want to break things down and understand what went wrong." DeJesus, 31, slipped to .237/.321/.374 in 502 plate appearances and may have been affected by losing his status as an everyday player. Slusser expects the Padres to be in the mix for the bounceback candidate, who will become a free agent shortly.
- Righty Rich Harden said he'd "definitely be open" to returning to the A's in 2012. The 29-year-old made all his starts since his July 1st season debut, posting a 5.12 ERA, 9.9 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 1.85 HR/9, and 31.5% groundball rate in 82 2/3 innings.
- Hideki Matsui is not really proud of his numbers this year, the designated hitter told Joe Stiglich of the San Jose Mercury News through a translator. Matsui, 37, hit .251/.321/.376 in 576 plate appearances.
- In our latest Elias Rankings projections, Crisp, Harden, and Matsui projected for neither Type A nor B status, while DeJesus projected for Type B.
This is a running list of players who have cleared waivers, based on published reports. Once a player clears waivers, he can be traded to any team (barring a no-trade clause). This list can always be found in the sidebar under MLBTR Features. Player names are linked to the source articles.
Updated 8-30-11 at 10:56pm
- Aaron Harang, Padres - Harang's ERA is a respectable 3.92 with 6.7 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in pitcher-friendly Petco Park.
- Dontrelle Willis, Reds - Willis has bounced back with the Reds, posting a 4.10 ERA, 6.3 K/9, 3.8 BB/9, 0.68 HR/9, and 56.8% groundball rate in 52 2/3 innings.
- Carlos Zambrano, Cubs - Zambrano cleared waivers prior to being placed on the disqualified list. He has a short fuse, lousy stats, and over $22MM remaining on his contract through next year.
- Rodrigo Lopez, Cubs - Not surprising to see the journeyman clear waivers.
- Chris Capuano, Mets - Capuano owns a 3.74 SIERA as of August 14th and earns only $1.5MM plus incentives, so it's hard to see why a few teams didn't place claims.
- Bronson Arroyo, Reds - His peripheral stats haven't changed much, but Arroyo has a 5.31 ERA as of August 15th. $15MM of his $35MM contract is deferred through 2021 without interest. The deferrals are voided if he's traded, however. At any rate, expect Arroyo to stay put.
- Bruce Chen, Royals - Chen has his moments, but it's not surprising to see him clear waivers.
- Jason Vargas, Mariners - Like many of the starters here, Vargas' fastball wouldn't break a window. But he has less than a million bucks left on his contract this year and is under team control through 2013. He'd fit nicely at the back end of several rotations.
- Chien-Ming Wang, Nationals - His three starts this season were his first in over two years, so it's understandable that contenders wouldn't jump to claim him.
- Tom Gorzelanny, Nationals - Booted to the bullpen last month, the 29-year-old flyballing southpaw has posted strong strikeout rates in recent years but can't hold a rotation job.
- Ted Lilly, Dodgers - He always has strong strikeout-to-walk numbers, but is prone to the longball. With over 82% of his $33MM contract remaining ($27MM+), it's no surprise he cleared waivers.
- Joe Nathan, Twins - Nathan won't be traded, according to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
- Chad Qualls, Padres - Qualls is enjoying a bounce-back season, though his strikeout rate dipped to 5.3 K/9 this year.
- Bill Bray, Reds - Bray has been decent this year, and a little tougher against lefties. He'll be arbitration eligible for the second time this offseason.
- Hong-Chih Kuo, Dodgers - A dominant reliever last year, Kuo has dealt with a back injury and anxiety disorder as his control has eluded him.
- Huston Street, Rockies - Between a recent triceps injury and the $9MM+ owed to him through 2012, Street was expected to clear.
- Brian Fuentes, Athletics - He's owed over $6MM through next year, and has been mediocre for the A's.
- Jon Rauch, Blue Jays - Rauch is affordable, but he's on the DL for an appendectomy and wasn't great before that.
- Mike Gonzalez, Orioles - Gonzalez has been dominant in August, and against lefties. The problem is that he's still owed almost a million bucks.
- Kevin Gregg, Orioles - Gregg might be the worst reliever holding down a closer's job, and he's owed at least $6.4MM through next year.
- John Grabow, Cubs - He's been ineffective even against lefties, and he has over $700K remaining.
- D.J. Carrasco, Mets - The Mets signed Carrasco to a two-year deal in December - their biggest acquisition of the offseason - but optioned him to Triple-A in April. He stayed there until mid-June.
- Aramis Ramirez, Cubs - In July, Ramirez's agent said that his client would consider an August deal but he has since had a change of heart. The Cubs hold an option on Ramirez's deal worth $16MM.
- Alfonso Soriano, Cubs - This one was also obvious. SI's Jon Heyman notes on Twitter that the Cubs are willing to pay a "major, major chunk" of the $58.35MM owed to the left fielder through 2014.
- Lance Berkman, Cardinals - Berkman has said he hopes to re-sign with St. Louis after the season, when he hits free agency. Still, it's a surprise to see him clear waivers.
- Ryan Theriot, Cardinals - Theriot earns $3.3MM this year and will be a non-tender candidate after the season.
- David Wright, Mets - It's surprising that Wright cleared waivers, but it doesn't mean the Mets have interest in dealing him. Wright earns $15MM next year and can void a $16MM club option for 2013 if traded.
- Conor Jackson, Athletics - Olney notes that the Red Sox asked about the light-hitting 1B/LF/RF, but there doesn't seem to be any traction there.
- David DeJesus, Athletics - DeJesus has had a rough year but could at least be useful against right-handed pitching.
- Hideki Matsui, Athletics - The Athletics have several waiver trade candidates, and Matsui's hot second half and low salary (owed less than $2MM the rest of the season) could make him a popular target.
- Jason Bay, Mets - With Bay being owed at least $38.8MM through 2013, this was expected. It's only been 12 games, but Bay is at least having his first good month of 2011.
- Willie Harris, Mets - The versatile Harris has less than $200K left on his contract.
- Angel Pagan, Mets - It's been a dismal year for Pagan, who may be in line for a non-tender after the season.
- Carlos Lee, Astros - No surprise here, as the 35-year-old is hitting .263/.321/.417 and is owed almost $23MM through next year. El Caballo's ten-and-five rights kick in after the season.
- Johnny Damon, Rays - Damon blocked an August trade last summer and 12 months later he's a candidate to be traded once again.
Tim Dierkes contributed to this post.
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.