We heard earlier today that the Yankees are only willing to spend about $1-2 million on a designated hitter. This would seem to rule out Carlos Pena and possibly Johnny Damon, unless they are willing to take severe pay cuts.
The Yanks will likely shuffle their aging veterans in and out of the DH spot all season, so there’s an argument to be made that they don’t need to sign anyone, but with so many veteran hitters still available in free agency and so few opportunities left, one will likely fall into their laps at a bargain rate.
With that in mind, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that there has been “some contact” between the Yankees and Hideki Matsui about a possible reunion.
Matsui, who turns 38 in June, batted .251/.321/.375 with 12 home runs, 72 RBI and a .696 OPS with the Athletics last season. It was easily the worst season of his nine-year major-league career, but hitting in the pitcher-friendly O.co Coliseum surely didn’t help matters (.663 OPS at home compared to a .729 OPS on the road) and he had an .820 OPS with the Angels in 2010.
Setting aside the obvious sentimentality, Matsui might not be the worst fit at DH if the price is right. While he struggled against right-handed pitching last season, he has an .840 OPS against them during his career. And we all know Andruw Jones is quite capable of mashing left-handed pitching.
There’s no doubt that the last three years have put David Wright through the ringer. The Mets third baseman missed the bulk of his 2015 season with spinal stenosis and made it through a month of games in 2016 before undergoing season-ending surgery to repair a herniated disc in his neck. In 2017, a bout of shoulder impingement, rotator cuff surgery and a laminotomy procedure on his lower back kept him off the field for all 162 games.
Despite the continual setbacks, Wright told MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, he doesn’t believe retirement is in the cards for him this year. “When the end comes, the end comes,” he said Friday. “Hopefully, I’ve got a little more left. But I guess that’s to be determined.”
The 35-year-old last appeared for High-A St. Lucie in 2017, powering through three games with one hit and five strikeouts in 10 plate appearances. His career has advanced in fits and starts since 2015, but you don’t have to do too much digging to find his last great performance with the Mets. Wright earned his seventh career All-Star berth in 2013, slashing .307/.390/.514 with 18 home runs and a terrific 6.0 fWAR in 492 PA. While he isn’t expected to mash at those levels in the near future, if ever again, the Mets believe the veteran third baseman might still have something left in the tank as he tries to extend a 13-year run in the majors.
Per DiComo, the only thing standing in his way is a clean bill of health — not just for the upcoming season, but for the years to come. Wright said he wouldn’t risk returning to the field if it came with long-term implications for his quality of life.
The surgeries are obviously serious stuff, but it just kind of plays with your mind mentally, where you don’t know how your body’s going to hold up,” Wright said. “You don’t know how you’re going to feel a month from now. You don’t know how you’re going to feel a couple weeks from now. You’re hoping that it continues to get better, but you just don’t know.
Given the uncertainty that surrounds his return to the game, it’s a prudent outlook to have.