A's Ink Matsui To One-Year Deal
The Oakland A's have made their splash in the Japanese market after all. Only a week after failing to come to terms with Japanese right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, the A's inked legendary Japanese outfielder Hideki Matsui to a one-year free agent deal. Matsui was set to be introduced by the team at a press conference this afternoon.
Matsui joins the A's from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, where he hit .274 with 21 homers and 84 RBIs in his first year with the club. Matsui had spent his previous seven major league seasons with the New York Yankees.
The 36-year-old slugger is a career .290 hitter with 161 homers in eight major league seasons. He also played eight years in the Japanese Professional League, where he was a superstar with the Yomiuri Giants. He hit 50 homers in 2002 for the Giants. His best major league season came in 2004, when he hit .298 with 31 homers and a 921 OPS for New York.
Matsui has a history of knee problems, but he has played in at least 142 games in every major league season but two. He appeared in 145 games for the Angels, mostly as a DH. Matsui is expected to spend the majority of his time at DH with Oakland.
Matsui was the Most Valuable Player of the 2009 World Series and was part of three Japan Series Championship teams. He is a two-time American League All-Star.
The signing of Matsui and the acquisition of outfielder David DeJesus earlier this off-season are indications that the A's don't plan to rush top prospect Chris Carter into their everyday outfield/DH mix next season. Along with DeJesus and Matsui, Oakland has outfielders Coco Crisp, Ryan Sweeney and Conor Jackson as expected members of the team's 25-man roster.
Matsui replaces Jack Cust as the A's primary DH. Cust was non-tendered by the A's in December and signed a one-year deal with the Seattle Mariners last week.
A's Ink McCarthy
Matsui wasn't the only free agent signing made by the A's this week. On Monday, Oakland announced that they had come to terms with free agent right-hander Brandon McCarthy on a one-year deal. McCarthy had been with the Texas Rangers before being outrighted to Triple-A earlier this off-season.
Once a top prospect with the Chicago White Sox, McCarthy has struggled with shoulder problems for the past several seasons. In 2010, he spent the entire year in Triple-A and was on the DL three times before finishing his season in July with shoulder inflammation. In 56.1 innings for Triple-A Oklahoma City, McCarthy had a 3.36 ERA and a 44:11 K:BB ratio.
McCarthy traveled to the Dominican Republic this off-season to pitch for the Toros del Este and prove that he was healthy. In four starts, he had a 1.96 ERA and an 11:3 K:BB ratio in 23 innings.
In 372.2 major league innings, McCarthy has a 4.56 ERA and a 20-24 record. He last pitched in the big leagues in 2009 when he went 7-4 with a 4.62 ERA in 97.1 innings (17 starts) for Texas.
The 6'7'' right-hander is reportedly guaranteed $1 million from the A's. He will enter spring training as the favorite for the team's fifth starter spot, but he will have heavy competition from Bobby Cramer, Tyson Ross, Clayton Mortensen and Josh Outman. McCarthy also has history as a reliever, having made 51 appearances out of the bullpen for the White Sox in 2006. He earned a World Series ring with Chicago in 2005.
Top Prospects, Minor League Free Agents Invited To Major League Camp
The A's have invited 16 non-roster players to their major league spring training camp thus far. The group is a mix of some of the organization's top prospects, as well as minor league free agents the A's have signed this off-season.
The 16 NRIs are: Joe Bateman, Fernando Cabrera, Vinnie Chulk, Gabe DeHoyos, Willie Eyre, Daniel Farquhar, Anthony Lerew, Yadel Marti, Anthony Recker, Max Stassi, Grant Green, Wes Timmons, Jemile Weeks, Matt Carson, Michael Choice and Jai Miller.
Farquhar, Recker, Stassi, Green, Weeks and Choice are the prospects invited to A's big league camp. Weeks, Green and Choice represent the A's top picks for the past three seasons.
Green, the A's '09 first-rounder, is coming off of a big season with High-A Stockton during which he hit .318 with 20 homers and an 883 OPS. He was named to the Topps Class A All-Star team and recently competed in the Arizona Fall League.
Choice, the A's top pick this season, had an impressive pro debut with short-season Vancouver. He hit seven homers in only 102 at-bats and posted a 1016 OPS in 27 games. Choice will be the second-youngest player in A's camp behind Stassi.
Weeks, the A's 2008 first-round pick, is coming off his third consecutive season that has been interrupted by a hip injury. The second baseman appeared in only 77 games in 2010 because of a strained hip flexor. He hit .272 with a 752 OPS for Double-A Midland and the A's Rookie League team.
Stassi and Recker will help handle Oakland's spring training pitching staff along with the 40-man roster catching corps of Kurt Suzuki, Landon Powell and Josh Donaldson. Stassi won't turn 20 until mid-March and will be the youngest player in camp. Both he and Recker are veterans of major league spring training. Stassi hit 13 homers in his first pro season in 2009, playing for Low-A Kane County. Recker had a strong season, mostly for Triple-A Sacramento, for whom he hit .288 with 10 homers in 80 games.
Farquhar will be making his debut as part of the A's organization. Acquired in the Rajai Davis deal from the Toronto Blue Jays, Farquhar is considered a rising relief prospect and will enter camp with an outside chance of landing a spot in the A's bullpen. He had a 3.52 ERA and 79 strike-outs in 76.2 innings for Double-A New Hampshire last season.
The remaining NRIs were signed to minor league contracts as free agents this off-season. Carson returns to the A's on a minor league deal for the third consecutive year. Miller was briefly a part of the A's organization at the start of the 2010 regular season when he was claimed off of waivers from the Marlins. However, the A's lost him to a waiver claim in late April to Kansas City.
Marti will be making his American baseball debut after a long and distinguished career pitching in Cuba. The right-hander was a star for Cuba in the 2006 World Baseball Classic and also nearly pitched a seven-inning perfect game for his national team in the 2007 Baseball World Cup. He defected from Cuba in 2008 and was declared a free agent in August 2009. He spent last season pitching for Veracruz of the Mexican Summer League, where he went 2-2 with a 4.19 ERA in 43 innings spread over eight starts. He will turn 26 during the regular season.
Lerew made headlines this off-season when he threw a no-hitter in the Venezuelan Winter League. The right-hander had a 2.55 ERA in 123.2 innings for Triple-A Omaha in 2010, but struggled in a stint with the Royals in the big leagues (8.54 ERA in six starts).
Of the group, Lerew, Cabrera, Chulk, Eyre, Carson and Miller have big league experience.