Whenever the topline piece of information about an available free agent the Yankees are chasing is his height, you know it's a good move.
But, on the flip side, the last time the Yankees employed a Matsui, things went pretty well for them, ring-wise. It could be worth another bite of the same apple.
Per reports, Yoshinobu Yamamoto isn't the only Japanese pitcher the Yankees are chasing this offseason, although the second option is dwarfed by the first one (only metaphorically, though). Yamamoto is a 5-10 flamethrower who has the potential to carry a big-league rotation while shouldering a $200+ million deal.
Yuki Matsui, a Japanese closer who's also on the market, is a diminutive 5-8. Matsui is reportedly exploring his options, and would not be subjected to the posting system if he decides to leap to America (though NPB teams are also in the pool for his services).
The Yankees are reportedly intrigued, as are the Red Sox, Padres and Cubs (say no more).
Yankees interested in Japanese closer Yuki Matsui
Matsui, nearly 28 years old, doesn't have much tape against American competition to go off of. He was on Team Japan's roster in the 2023 World Baseball Classic, but threw only one inning during the tournament. Hey. Not all of us can be Shohei Ohtani. Hopefully, Brian Cashman got to watch him in person, too, while he was overseas taking in Yamamoto's no-no.
Notably, though, he did play his whole NPB career, to this point, with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, the same team Masahiro Tanaka both left in 2013 and returned to in 2021. If the Yankees are interested in learning more information on this quirkly left-hander, they might just have a man on the inside (who's only a Gerrit Cole text away).
Matsui has 236 saves and a 2.40 career ERA in his Japanese career. And hey, who knows? If the Yankees let Wandy Peralta walk, perhaps they've found their new funky bullpen lefty in this surprising 167-pound package. If he becomes a World Series MVP like Hideki, all the better.