‘Youngest 200 Saves→Save Champion for 2nd Year in a Row’ Japanese Lefty Closer Targets US…9 ML Teams Interested
Yuki Matsui, 28, a left-handed pitcher for the Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, will exercise his international free agent rights to play in Major League Baseball. Nine Major League Baseball teams have already expressed interest in Matsui during the season.
“Matsui has decided to exercise his overseas free agent rights,” the Rakuten club announced on Friday. Matsui’s representatives informed the club on the same day.
Rakuten President Mori said, “(Matsui) said he really wants to challenge overseas. At his age, it’s an opportunity. 온라인카지노 He said he wants to do it now because there is an environment where he can challenge overseas.”
“I asked him to stay with the club if possible, and we had three or four stay talks,” Mori said, “but we want to fulfill the player’s desire to go abroad. It’s difficult to interfere with a player’s rights. Of course, I told him that I don’t want him to move to another club in Japan.”
Matsui joined Rakuten as the No. 1 pick in the 2013 draft. In his rookie year in 2014, he split time between the starting rotation and the bullpen, going 4-8 with three saves. In his second year, he established himself as a closer, going 3-2 with 12 saves in 63 games with a 0.87 ERA.
He reached the 30-save mark three years in a row with 30 saves in 2016 and 33 saves in 2017, and won his first reliever’s title in 2019 with 38 saves.
In 2020, he challenged for the starting job again, but in 25 games (10 starts), he posted a 4-5 record with eight holds and two saves. He returned to the closer’s role full-time in 2021 and won his second save title in 2022 with 32 saves.
Matsui, who pitched for Japan at the World Baseball Classic in March, became the ninth player in Nippon Professional Baseball to reach 200 saves on April 5. He also became the youngest player in history to reach 200 saves at the age of 27 years and five months.
In 59 games this season, Matsui was 2-3 with a record of 8-3, 39 saves and a 1.57 ERA. For the second year in a row, he won his third career save title.
In 501 career Nippon Professional Baseball games, he has a 25-46 record, 76 wins, 236 saves, and a 2.40 ERA. He is known for his 150+ mph fastball and forkball.
According to Japanese media outlet Sportichi Annex, “Representatives from nine major league clubs, including the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Chicago Cubs, came to a Rakuten game in September to watch and check out Matsui’s pitching. In October, San Diego club officials visited for a final check.”
“His 11.30 strikeouts per nine innings is solid for a Japanese reliever and should help teams with few left-handed relievers. He has signed with Brian Minniti of WME, a major American talent agency. He has served as a general manager’s assistant in Philadelphia, Arizona, and Washington.”