I compiled the 2008 Free Agents list back in March of this year, knowing at the time that a handful of surprisingly valuable players would surface throughout the season. In 2006 it was Gary Matthews Jr. This year, it’s Kaz Matsui. (By the way, the list is fully up-to-date now so check it out.)
Troy E. Renck and Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post have an article up today discussing Matsui and his impending free agency. To hear Matsui tell it, he actually craved the challenge of a one-year contract. Otherwise, he might get lazy. I guess it was complacency that caused that .652 OPS in 2005.
Matsui can earn up to $2.45MM this year if he hits his incentives. Not sure if he will, as he only played 18 games total in April and May because of back spasms. Matsui has been a new man since joining the Rockies, hitting .325/.366/.480 in 302 ABs. He’s been the player the Mets thought they signed. However, the split has been .372/.420/.524 at Coors and .280/.315/.439 on the road. The latter line is a more reasonable expectation if he is to sign elsewhere as a free agent. If Matsui wants $4MM or so annually, the Rockies will probably pass.
It seems likely that Matsui stays in the U.S., though the Rakuten Golden Eagles pursued him as a free agent last November. If he stays, competition should be slim – Luis Castillo and Tadahito Iguchi may be the only other available regulars at second base. That assumes Jeff Kent’s option vests and the Padres retain Marcus Giles at $4MM. The former seems likely but Giles has been questionable at just .242/.313/.338.