Via MLB Trade Rumors comes a Tweet from NPB Tracker in which it is claimed that Hideki Matsui’s mere presence on the New York Yankees accounts for “at least” $15 million in annual revenue. NPB bases this assertion on a report that’s written in Japanese, so it’s hard to say where this figure comes from, but we can spitball it a little, can’t we?
One obvious source of income that would presumably dry up if Matsui leaves are those Japanese language billboards that appear on the Yankee Stadium outfield wall and behind home plate and stuff during games. I’m not privy to how much revenue those bring, but I do know that the Cubs recently entered into a a five-year, $10.8 million deal with Under Armour to have its logo displayed on the outfield doors at Wrigley Field.
That led to some litigation which at least suggested that the deal wasn’t worth the money to Under Armour (UA wanted out from under the deal, the Cubs sued to keep it in place), so a ~$2 million a year value for that may be high as these things go. At least in Chicago and at least when it doesn’t involve the Japanese market. Let’s say that the Yankee Stadium ads are worth half again as much as the UA ads are. $3-4 million? I could totally see that.
After that, figure in a few million for Matsui and Yankee merch in Japan. Then figure in the fact that a bunch more eyes are watching Yankee broadcasts in Japan as well. Once you start adding these things up, it’s not hard to envision a situation in which, even if Matsui’s contract isn’t totally paid for, it’s heavily subsidized by revenue specific to his presence on the roster.
In the ordinary course it makes little sense to sign a 35 year-old guy who can only DH to a multi-year deal in excess of eight figures annually. In light of the Matsui-related revenue, however, I’d be shocked if the Yankees didn’t sign the guy.