Hideki Matsui already opted for retirement over the winter, but he’s going to go out as a Yankee.
The Yankees announced earlier this afternoon that Matsui will sign a one-day minor league contract with the club on July 28 in order to announce his official retirement. He’ll be honored at Yankee Stadium on the same day.
Here’s part of the official press release:
The New York Yankees will honor the illustrious career of Hideki Matsui before their scheduled 1:05 p.m. game on Sunday, July 28 vs. Tampa Bay.
Matsui will sign a one-day minor league contract with the Yankees on July 28 in order to announce his official retirement that day as a New York Yankee. His parents are also expected to be in attendance at the game.
Additionally, on July 28, the Yankees will hold a special pregame homeplate ceremony for Matsui, and the first 18,000 Guests at the game will receive a Hideki Matsui bobblehead presented by AT&T – which portrays the slugger with his 2009 World Series MVP trophy.
In honor of Matsui, who wore uniform No. 55 with the Yankees, the day’s events are to take place on the Yankees’ originally scheduled 55th home game of the 2013 season.
After posting huge numbers in Japan, Matsui signed with the Yankees in the winter of 2002 and spent seven seasons with the club before making stops with the Angels, Athletics, and Rays in recent years. He compiled a .282/.360/.462 career batting line in the majors to go along with 175 home runs and 760 RBI. A two-time All-Star, Matsui was named the World Series MVP in 2009 after he went 8-for-13 with three home runs and eight RBI in six games against the Phillies.
The Nationals will be many people’s favorites in the NL East this season. Not everything is looking great, however. For example, their ace — defending NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer — can’t even throw fastballs right now.
The reason: the stress fracture he suffered last August is still causing him problems and Scherzer is unable to use his fastball grip without feeling pain in his right ring finger. He will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, but will only use his secondary stuff.
Scherzer has not been ruled out for Opening Day — the fact that he is throwing some means that his timetable isn’t totally on hold — but you have to figure, at some point, not being able to air things out and use his heater will lead to some problems in his spring training routine.
File this under “man, that would’ve been cool.” Or, if you’re a Tigers fan, file it under “man, that would’ve signaled several years of misery.” However you fall on the matter, however, know that, according to Jon Heyman, the Dodgers inquired about trading for Justin Verlander over the winter.
It never went anywhere, but it’s not like it was silliness for the Dodgers to ask. As you may recall, the Tigers were reported to be willing to listen to offers on any and all players back in November, as GM Al Avila contemplated a tear-down. That never came to pass — the Tigers had a quiet offseason and are keeping the team together to make another run at the playoffs with the Verlander/Miguel Cabrera core — but it couldn’t hurt to ask.
Verlander, who is coming off a resurgent season which saw him return to form as one of baseball’s best pitchers, has 10-5 rights, allowing him to veto any trade. He’s married to an actress/model, however, owns a home in L.A., and the Dodgers are a clear contender, so there’s a good chance he would’ve allowed such a trade to happen. Heck, dude even loves pitchers batting, so a chance to do it all the time would be right up his alley.
The bigger issue likely would’ve been Verlander’s $28 million salary. The Dodgers already pay the luxury tax so taking on that commitment would cost them more than the sticker price. And, of course, if the Tigers are going to ever give up one of the best players in franchise history, it would take the motherlode of prospects to do it.
So, no, a Verlander-to-L.A. trade wasn’t ever a strong possibility. But even the slight possibility seems exciting in hindsight. It was a boring as hell offseason.