Former major leaguer Kazuo Matsui has rejoined his first professional team, the Seibu Lions of Nippon Professional Baseball (hat tip to Kyodo News). The 42-year-old was not offered a contract by his previous team, the Rakuten Eagles, and will now reportedly take on both outfielder and coaching duties for the Lions. “I felt strongly about continuing my playing career,” Matsui said. “I know the competition will be tough but I’ll get more motivated playing against younger players.” Matsui hit .267/.321/.380 while stealing 102 bases across 2,555 major league plate appearances with the Mets, Rockies and Astros from 2004-2010, with whom he played mostly second base. During his Japan career, however, Matsui put up fantastic offensive numbers (including 201 career homers). He earned four Gold Glove Awards as well as the 1998 Pacific League MVP Award.
Some other things happening in foreign territory…
- Former Phillies outfielder/first baseman Darin Ruf has found some success in Korea, hitting 31 homers and leading the entire Korean Baseball Organization with 124 RBI. According to the Yonhap News Agency, the Samsung Lions recently re-signed him for the 2018 season on a $1.5MM deal. During his career in the U.S., Ruf played at the MLB level during parts of five seasons, bouncing back and forth between the Phillies and their Triple-A affiliate. Across 833 major league plate appearances, he played at roughly replacement level, showing poor plate discipline (8.2 BB%, 27.5 K%) but decent power (.193 ISO).
- Elsewhere in the KBO, the NC Dinos have inked former major league pitcher Logan Verrett to a pact worth $800K (also via the Yonhap News Agency). Verrett had a 4.62 ERA during his major league career with the Mets and Orioles. A whopping 15.5% HR/FB rate may have done him across his 150 career MLB innings, along with a very low 6.84 K/9.
- According to a tweet from ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, multiple MLB teams have shown interest in former Padres pitcher Jay Jackson. Crasnick notes that Jackson has been one of the best setup men in Japan over the last two seasons. Jackson only pitched 4 1/3 innings at the major league level in 2015, but did flash a 95.1 MPH fastball. He also put up a 2.54 ERA in 63 2/3 innings with the Padres’ Triple-A affiliate that same season.