Tampa Bay called up Hideki Matsui last month despite his hitting just .170 in 13 games at Triple-A, so the fact that they’re now sticking with him despite his hitting .147 in 34 games in the majors follows that same line of (weird) thinking.
Matsui is 38 years old and hasn’t been healthy and productive in the same season since 2010, but for some reason the Rays’ decision-makers remain convinced that he has something left in the tank even when evidence to the contrary continues to pile up.
In addition to hitting .147 he has an ugly 22/8 K/BB ratio with just two homers in 103 plate appearances and has been particularly brutal in key spots, going 2-for-22 (.091) in “close and late” situations. Toss in his total lack of defensive value and … well, the whole situation is pretty confusing.
Here’s how manager Joe Maddon tried to explain the ongoing faith in Matsui:
You have a man of his caliber, a man of his esteem on the bench right there. I know he’s been struggling but at any moment it could possibly pop up and bite you in a good way.
Dating back to the beginning of last season Matsui has hit .235 with a .305 on-base percentage and .361 slugging percentage in 175 games and he was terrible in a two-week stint at Triple-A. While the Rays and Maddon wait for Matsui to “pop up and bite you in a good way” he’s costing them runs and games.
The Yankees appear to have moved on from free agent Manny Machado this winter, but could they be turning their attention to Rockies superstar Nolan Arenado? That’s the idea floated by Andy Martino of SNY, who hears that GM Brian Cashman has been involved in recent discussions concerning the third baseman. No official comments have been made to the press yet, though, and it’s not clear whether the Yankees would prefer to pursue Arenado prior to the 2019 season or partway through it.
The 27-year-old infielder earned his fourth consecutive All-Star nomination, Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove award in 2018 after slashing .297/.374/.561 with 38 home runs, a .935 OPS, and 5.7 fWAR across 673 plate appearances. There’s no question he’s provided immense value to Colorado’s lineup over the last half-decade, and his consistency and incredible power at the plate helped form the basis of the record $30 million arbitration figure he presented to the team last week. The Rockies countered at $24 million, however, and in doing so may have jeopardized their chances of convincing the infielder to forego free agency in 2020 and take a long-term deal instead.
Assuming he declines to negotiate an extension with the Rockies, Arenado’s decorated résumé and career-best 2018 numbers should attract plenty of interest around the league — a reality that could put considerable pressure on the Yankees (or any other interested party) to finesse a deal sooner rather than later. For now, the club is prepared to enter the 2019 season with hot-hitting third baseman Miguel Andújar, whom Martino speculates would be the “centerpiece” of any trade with Colorado.