Yankees Keeping Tabs on Standout Japanese Closer

MLB: Seattle Mariners at New York Yankees

The New York Yankees’ front office is reportedly in the hunt to add to their efficient bullpen this offseason and have eyes on a standout relief pitcher from overseas.

Per reports, the Yankees are actively recruiting star closer Yuki Matsui from Japan’s NPB league.

Another Star Closer to Amp Up the Yankees Bullpen

“It’s not a guarantee that he will sign with a Major League Baseball club. He’s sure to garner plenty of interest with New York among nine teams to scout the closer, including the rival Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, and the San Diego Padres.”

Matsui racked up a career-high 39 saves behind a 1.57 ERA and 0.89 WHIP for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of the NPB in 2023. The 27-year-old free agent is seasoned and experienced, with 704 innings under his belt. He also became the youngest pitcher in the NPB to reach 200 saves.

The lefty closer tops out at around 96 mph on his fastball, proving he has the velocity to put away elite-level hitters in the majors.

His stellar efficiency would add to a Yankees bullpen that led the MLB with a 3.44 ERA. However, New York fell out of the top 10 in saves for only the second time in the last 10 seasons despite seeing slightly fewer opportunities than teams at the top of the leaderboard.

Will Money or the Biggest Stage Sway Matsui’s Free Agency Decision?

The Eagles are reportedly ready to offer Matsui a long-term contract at around $10.7 million annually, per mlbtraderumors.com. The Yankees matching that price tag would make Matsui the highest-paid closer on the team.

New York’s cap situation is strapped as they are well into the luxury tax. They are also closely tied to star OF Juan Soto and could make a play for two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani. The bullpen isn’t the area that needs the most attention as presently constructed, and with a large pool of teams also in the mix to try and pull Matsui, the Yankees could pass on him.

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