Jack Curry of the YES Network is reporting that the Tampa Bay Rays are signing Hideki Matsui to a minor league deal. Last season, Matsui played for the A’s, and he had his worst season yet in America. Matsui had a .696 OPS and homered just 12 times in 141 games.
Matsui will be 38 in June, and his best years are clearly behind him. Since leaving the Yankees after the 2009 season, Matsui has just 33 homers and has accrued only 1.8 fWAR in 286 games. He hasn’t played the field full-time since the 2008 season, and is essentially just a DH at this point in his career.
But right now in Tampa Bay, Luke Scott was signed in the offseason as a free agent to DH, and seems entrenched at the position with a .910 OPS, three homers, and 14 RBI in 12 games played so far this year. The Rays signed another former A’s hitter, Brandon Allen, on Thursday, and he has the same general limitations as Matsui. Allen has the “ability” to play first base, but isn’t good there defensively. With Allen and now Matsui in the fold, the Rays have a plethora of options at DH in case Scott falters or gets injured. They’re not the sexiest names on the planet, but Allen could probably hold his own offensively, while Matsui would at least be another veteran bat for a young team.
At the end of the day, this signing won’t make too many waves in the AL East. But hell, it’s a minor league deal that will probably pay him close to the league minimum, so it’s not going to exactly cripple the Rays either.