Yuki Matsui’s time in Nippon Professional baseball could be over.
According to Yahoo Japan, Matsui is set to exercise his international free agent rights. This means interested teams would not have to pay a posting fee for his services, allowing the 28 year old to come stateside without strings attached. Matsui has already been linked to one major league team as the Cardinals are reportedly interested in his services.
Yuki Matsui ready to pursue major league dream
Matsui has been a force in Japan during the past decade. He made his NPB debut at 18 years old, taking over as the Rakuten Golden Eagles’ closer a year later. He has dominated since, posting a 2.40 ERA and a 1.108 WHiP over his 659.2 innings, notching 236 saves while striking out 860 batters. Matsui is one of just nine pitchers in NPB history to reach the 200 save plateau, cementing his place as one of the best relievers the league has ever seen.
He does not have the typical closer arsenal in the majors. His fastball only sits in the mid 90s, although its excellent carry allows it to play up. Given his shorter, slight build, it is fair to wonder how he will transition to a major league ball. However, Matsui does have a plus splitter and a late moving slider, both of which make his limited velocity less of a concern. And he does have an impressive track record of success in Japan. That could let teams overlook any potential red flags.
His success is still going to attract notice. While he may not be used as a closer, at least immediately, Matsui should be a high leverage reliever. He is likely to have an adjustment period as he gets used to the majors, but future success would not be a surprise.
Yuki Matsui is ready to enter international free agency. He has his sights set on heading stateside and pursuing his major league dream.