‘Nutba and rice in one pot?’ NPB relief king, ‘drooling’ in MLB… Rakuten 18.1 billion won bet
Yuki Matsui (28, Rakuten Golden Eagles), a top closing pitcher in Japanese professional baseball, is challenging the U.S. Major League Baseball (MLB).
Japanese media outlet Sports Hochi reported on the 26th that ‘Matsui informed the club of his intention to exercise his rights as an overseas free agent (FA).’ Matsui recorded 2 wins, 3 losses, 39 saves, and an ERA of 1.57 in 59 games this season. He was named the Pacific League Relief King for the third time in his career, following 2019 and 2022. NPB’s career record (10 years) is 25 wins, 46 losses, 76 holds, and 236 saves. He is one of the closing pitchers representing NPB, along with Suguru Iwazaki (Hanshin Tigers) and Kazuto Taguchi (Yakult Swallows).굿모닝토토
He can exercise his overseas free agent rights after this season. There was a lot of attention on whether to stay or transfer, and it was reported that he had a strong intention to advance to the big leagues. According to Sports Hochi, the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, and San Diego Padres checked out Matsui during the season. In particular, it is known that the St. Louis Cardinals, the team of outfielder Las Nubba, who played for Japan in the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC), have entered the race to recruit Matsui.
St. Louis evaluated that Matsui would be in the A class among pitchers who will take charge of the 7th and 8th innings. Sports Hochi finished the season in last place (71 wins, 91 losses) in the National League Central Division. He added, “There is an urgent need to reinforce the bullpen, and it has been decided to make a formal offer to Matsui after the Japan Series.”
As he is a core force, Rakuten also has no intention of letting Matsui go easily. If he chooses to stay in NPB, he hopes to stay with Rakuten. Matsui’s estimated annual salary this season is 250 million yen (2.3 billion won). Sports Hochi said, ‘We have made all preparations, including readjusting the contract, which was initially known as 1.6 billion yen (14.5 billion won) over 4 years, to 2 billion yen (18.1 billion won) over 4 years.’ Sponich Annex will proceed with the application process within 7 business days from the day after the end of the Japan Series. He said, “With multiple MLB teams conducting an investigation, it is expected that a signal for competition will sound.”