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.
Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.
The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.
The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.
In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.