Oakland Athletics beat writer Susan Slusser is reporting that the A’s are on the verge of working out a contract with free agent designated hitter Hideki Matsui for the 2011 season. The team has scheduled a press conference for Tuesday (tomorrow) and while a contract has yet to be announced, that press conference is expected to announce the signing of Matsui.
The deal sounds like it might be a one-year deal, although I would not be surprised to see some kind of second year option. It could be a vesting option based on plate appearances, or some kind of player, team, or mutual option for 2012.
Hideki Matsui’s agent Arn Tellem has indicated Matsui wanted to sign with a team that offered a combination of significant playing time and a chance to play in the postseason. Oakland can trump just about anybody in playing time as Matsui would be their every-day DH. Additionally, the A’s can move players around enough to get Matsui some time in the outfield if he wanted.
The question for some would be whether the Athletics would be a sufficient winner for Matsui. Oakland was 81-81 last year with strong pitching and defense, but questionable offense. If the A’s can sign Matsui they’ll have made two significant moves that should boost their offense considerably. The team dealt fifth starter Vin Mazzaro and prospects to the Royals for David DeJesus. The outfielder would provide a strong doubles-hitting option that alone would boost the A’s offense. Adding in Matsui to hit in the clean-up spot only adds to that. Finally, if Chris Carter can continuing his strong September development, the team could see a rare power surge.
All together these moves put the A’s in prime position to challenge the Rangers and Angels for the AL West. That combined with guaranteed playing time seems to be reason enough for Matsui to sign with the Oakland.