Yuki Matsui (28, Rakuten Golden Eagles), one of the top closers in Nippon Professional Baseball, is looking to play in Major League Baseball (MLB).
“Matsui has informed the club of his intention to exercise his overseas free agent (FA) rights,” Japanese media outlet Sportshochi reported on Saturday. Matsui was 2-3 with a 1.57 ERA and 39 saves in 59 games this season. He won his third Pacific League bullpen title, after winning in 2019 and 2022. In his 10-year NPB career, Matsui has a 25-46 record with 76 saves in 236 games. Along with Suguru Iwazaki (Hanshin Tigers) and Kazuto Taguchi (Yakult Swallows), he is one of the best closers in NPB.
He can exercise his overseas free agent rights after this season. He has been linked with a move to the big leagues. The New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, and San Diego Padres all checked in on Matsui during the season, according to SportsHorse. Even the St. Louis Cardinals, the team of outfielder Ras Nuba, who represented Japan in the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC), are reportedly in the mix for Matsui.
St. Louis rated Matsui as a “Class A” pitcher for the seventh or eighth inning. “The Cardinals finished the season in last place in the National League Central (71 wins and 91 losses). They are in urgent need of bullpen reinforcements and have decided to make a formal offer to Matsui after the Japan Series.
As a key contributor, Rakuten is not willing to let Matsui go easily. If he chooses to stay in the NPB, Rakuten wants him to stay. Matsui’s estimated salary this season is 250 million yen ($2.3 billion). According to Sportshochi, “The team has made all 먹튀검증 the preparations, including renegotiating the contract, which was initially reported to be four years and 1.6 billion yen ($14.5 billion), to four years and 2 billion yen ($18.1 billion). The application process will begin within seven business days of the end of the Japan Series, according to SporNichi Annex. Several MLB clubs are investigating, so it’s likely to be a competitive process.