Hanshin Talks Matsui
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.