There may be another name to watch on the free agent market, as Japanese infielder Nobuhiro Matsuda has declared free agency and is looking for a deal with a major league club, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). The 32-year-old has spent the vast majority of his time at third base while playing for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league. Matsuda has delivered consistent power numbers over the years, but showed a significant increase in his home run output last year, when he swatted a career-best 35 long balls. However, as Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker notes on Twitter, that tally was likely boosted by a favorable change in his home park’s dimensions. Over 603 plate appearances on the year, Matsuda slashed a robust .287/.357/.533. While his age (and lack of MLB experience) limits his value, the veteran does have the benefit of entering a market that lacks much in the way of hot corner options. And because he was eligible to become a free agent, he won’t need to go through the posting process (or have any part of his potential earnings reduced by a release fee).
Here are more notes from around the game as the free agent market kicks into gear:
- Japanese righty Kenta Maeda likely won’t be posted until after the “Super 12” tournament is completed in late November, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports. His team, the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, is still expected to make the intriguing starter available. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes took an early look at Maeda as a part of his annual top fifty free agent list, explaining that the Diamondbacks could be a strong contender for his services.
- Reliever Darren O’Day is drawing a lot of attention early in the offseason, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports. While a variety of large-budget clubs — including the Tigers, Nationals, Mets, and Yankees — are expected to have interest, Sherman says the Orioles will have a chance to match any offers.
- Lefty Mark Buehrle still has not told his agents whether or not he’ll pitch next year, Sherman adds. But he’ll draw plenty of interest if he does, as about ten clubs have already reached out to see whether he would be pitching or retiring.
- Free agent outfielder Nori Aoki is completely healthy after dealing with concussion issues late in the season, agent Nez Balelo tells Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The Giants’ decision to decline a seemingly affordable option on the veteran was motivated by a desire for flexibility, Balelo indicated, rather than Aoki’s ability to return at full speed. Aoki remains an often-underappreciated player, and he’ll be an interesting target for teams looking for value in the corner outfield.
- It’s shaping up as a strong market for righty Jeff Samardzija, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. He struggled mightily in the run prevention department last year, but many executives remain big fans of his stuff and makeup.
- Southpaw Johan Santana still wants to return in 2016, agent Peter Greenberg tells Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). The 36-year-old’s most recent comeback attempts have been derailed by an array of ailments, but the two-time Cy Young winner is evidently still committed. He last threw in the big leagues in 2012.
- If you’re interested in reading up on what this winter may have in store, here are a few pieces looking at the market from a broader perspective. In an interesting and well-researched piece, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca explains that the addition of the second Wild Card has made deadline additions more difficult — which, in turn, makes it all the more important to build a team over the winter. The active period of front office turnover that we just experienced may lead to increased activity on the trade market, Sherman suggests.
- Likewise, a variety of outlets have recently taken different approaches to looking at individual players. ESPN.com’s Buster Olney provides a list of free agents who he thinks could be under-valued on the market. And ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick surveyed executives around the league on a variety of subjects, providing extensive quotes and analysis on different segments of the market.