Hanshin Talks Matsui

» 16 June 2009 » In mlb, nichibei, npb »

Comments made by an unnamed member of the Hanshin Tigers front office about the possibility of Hanshin going after Hideki Matsui this offseason are making the rounds in the Japanese media. Here’s what was said in Sponichi:

“There’s a feeling that if he comes back to Japan, it will be with Hanshin. He’s had knee issues, and if he’s going to play in Japan the natural grass at Koshien would be good.”

And Nikkan Sports:

“Certainly with that type of hitter, it wouldn’t be that we don’t have interest. Are the Yankees really not going to resign him, and if so, how much would we need? We want to do our homework so that if it comes to that, we’ll be able to move quickly.”

“Realistically money would be a problem.”

Comments attributed to Matsui appear in Sponichi:

“Of course, the best thing would be to continue to be a player who is needed by the Yankees. Of course I can’t even imagine playing for another team.”

“I might have to return to Japan.”

I think we can expect to see this kind of speculation about Matsui’s future more frequently as the season goes on. In the US media, Matsui has been pretty consistent in saying that he’d like to stay in MLB, so his Sponichi comments come as a little bit of a surprise to me.

It feels like Hanshin is posturing a little bit with these comments, though the are openly acknowledging that it would be an expensive move for them. Hanshin talked a pretty good game when Kenshin Kawakami was on the market last year as well. It’s also hard to see where Matui fights in with the Tigers in a baseball sense. Still, Hanshin was Matsui’s favorite team growing up, and he’d obviously be a huge draw anywhere in Japan, so I wouldn’t rule this out completely.

Tags: ,

Trackback URL

  1. Patrick
    Tom Dubberke
    16/06/2009 at 12:34 pm Permalink

    My feeling is that this will be Matsui’s last year with the Yankees, based on his age and recent injury problems. If Matsui wants to continue to play for the Yankees, I think he would need to accept 1 year at a drastically reduced salary, like $5M-$7M.

    If the Yankees decide not to keep Matsui, I think some of the West Coast teams might well be interested in Matsui on a one-year or two-year contract max.

    If any U.S. team makes a decent offer to Matsui, and I think at least one will, it will be hard for Hanshin to match the offer. However, given his U.S. and Japanese success, I think Matsui would be worth more to a Japanese team, to the degree he can stay healthy. If he can play 120 games in a Japanese season, I think he would still hit around 40 HRs.

  2. Patrick
    16/06/2009 at 10:14 pm Permalink

    He probably won’t hit 40 HR in 120 games if his home park is pitcher friendly Koshien. Pin stripe to pin stripe, it’ll be an appropriate move tho.

  3. Patrick
    16/06/2009 at 11:09 pm Permalink

    I think he would hit, even in Koshien. I don’t know where he’d play for the Tigers though. Matsui’s legs probably aren’t up to regular outfield duty any more, and anyway left is taken and he’s never had the arm for right. I guess that leaves first base, but he’s never played there as a pro.


  1. [...] * Hideki Matsui’s future may be with the Tigers — the Hanshin Tigers [...]

  2. [...] Patrick at NPB Tracker rounds up a series of comments from members of the Hanshin Tigers front office, saying…

  3. [...] not the Detroit Tigers, but the Hanshin Tigers of the Japanese Central League. According to NPB Tracker, members of…

  4. Matsui Responds » NPB Tracker 17/06/2009 at 10:42 pm

    [...] other day, Sponichi ran some comments from Hideki Matsui in response to the revelation that Hanshin might be interested…