Matsui Signs 4-Year Deal with SD, Nippon Sportshochi Reports

Yuki Matsui (28-Rakuten Golden Eagles), one of the top closers in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), is close to making the jump to the big leagues.

“Matsui has reached a basic agreement with the San Diego Padres,” according to Japanese media outlet Sportsho, “a four-year, ¥3 billion ($2.73 billion) deal that will see him earn a significant increase from this season’s ¥250 million ($2.3 billion) salary. He has already undergone a medical test and if there are no problems, the contract is expected to be formally announced soon,” the report said on Nov. 21. If Matsui dons a San Diego uniform, he can expect to face Shohei Ohtani (Dodgers) in the official opening game of the San Diego-LA Dodgers series in South Korea (Gocheok Sky Dome) next season.

San Diego lost a number of key bullpen arms to free agency this winter, including Josh Hader, Nick Martinez, Luis Garcia and Tim Hill. Martinez signed with the Cincinnati Reds and Garcia with the Los Angeles Angels. The team was in need of bullpen reinforcements and continued to show interest in Matsui, who made the jump from NPB to Major League Baseball (MLB).

Matsui went 2-3 with a 1.57 ERA and 39 saves in 59 NPB games this season. He won his third Pacific League bullpen title after winning in 2019 and 2022. In his NPB career (10 years), he has a 25-46 record with 76 saves and a 2.40 ERA. He is one of the best closers in NPB, along with Suguru Iwazaki (Hanshin Tigers) and Kazuto Taguchi (Yakult Swallows).

MLB.com reported on Tuesday that “San Diego is close to signing Matsui to a multi-year deal. (Matsui’s NPB ERA) drops to 2.10 if you exclude his 17 starts.” “Roberto Suarez will likely fill the void left by (closer) Hader. It’s unclear what role Matsui will play (in San Diego), but he’ll likely be asked to pitch (crucial) high-leverage innings. The New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, and San Diego have all checked in on Matsui during the offseason, according to SportsHorse.

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