MONDAY, 2:09pm: Matsui has cleared waivers and is now a free agent, tweets Alyson Footer. The Astros will be on the hook for his $5MM salary, minus the pro-rated league minimum.
WEDNESDAY, 11:02pm: The Astros have asked waivers on Kaz Matsui and intend to release the infielder, GM Ed Wade said in a team press release. If no team claims Matsui by Monday, he will become a free agent, though the Astros will be responsible for his $5MM salary. The Astros called Oswaldo Navarro up from Triple A in a corresponding move.
The Astros signed Matsui to a three-year $16.5MM deal in 2007 and were rewarded a promising initial season. Matsui hit .293/.354/.427 with 20 steals in 25 attempts in 2008, though he played in just 96 games. The 34-year-old hasn't been as productive since and his batting line has fallen off to .141/.197/.155 this year. The Astros, whose offense ranks last in the NL, had to move on.
Matsui's batting line won't have suitors lining up and his fielding has been below average since joining the Astros (according to UZR). Last fall, Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle reported that the Astros could consider the possibility of Matsui returning to Japan. Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle reports today that Matsui did not say whether he would consider a return to his native country.