Sep 25, 2011; Anaheim, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics designated hitter Hideki Matsui (55) reacts after being called out during the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-US PRESSWIRE

Hideki Matsui Rumors: Rays Expected to Sign Matsui

Jack Curry of the YES Network is reporting that veteran free agent Hideki Matsui is expected “to soon sign a minor league deal with the Tampa Bay Rays”.

After spending his first seven seasons with the Yankees, Matsui has called the West Coast home for the past two years.  In 2010 Matsui played in 145 games for the Angels followed by his first 500-plus at-bat campaign since 2007 last season with the A’s.

As expected, the 37-year-old’s numbers were down across the board last year.  Over his 517 at-bats with Oakland, Matsui hit .251/.321/.375, though he was still able to compile 12 home runs, 28 doubles and 72 RBIs.  It was the first time Matsui finished the year with an OPS south of .700 and only the third time he didn’t reach the .800 plateau.

Tampa Bay improved their offense this winter by adding sluggers Carlos Pena and Luke Scott.  While Scott is currently manning the Rays designated hitter spot, the veteran dealt with shoulder issues last season which limited him to 209 at-bats and an OPS of .703.

Tampa Bay may view Matsui as insurance for Scott in case he does hit the disabled list later in the season.  Beyond his shoulder injury, Scott has never been an extremely durable player.  Though he played in at least 128 games from 2007-10, Scott has never compiled more than 475 at-bats in a single season.

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Tags: Carlos Pena Hideki Matsui Luke Scott Tampa Bay Rays

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