Following Yoshinobu Yamamoto (Orix Buffaloes), Shota Imanaga (Yokohama DeNA), and Naoyuki Uwasawa (Nippon Ham Fighters), another Japanese pitcher is challenging the major league. This is Yuki Matsui (Rakuten Golden Eagles), who was called the ‘Lee Dae-ho Killer.’
Japan’s ‘Daily Sports’ reported on the 25th, “Rakuten Golden Eagles Yuki Matsui is exercising his overseas free agent rights,” and “we have contacted President Masayuki Morii.”
Matsui debuted as a professional after being selected by Rakuten in the first round of the 2013 rookie draft, and has appeared in 501 games over a total of 10 seasons until this year, recording 25 wins, 46 losses, 76 holds, 236 saves, and an ERA of 2.40, representing Japanese professional baseball. He is one of the closing pitchers. A left-handed pitcher who throws a mix of fastballs up to 154 km/h, sliders, change-ups, and curves.
Starting in 2015, the second season after his debut, Matsui took charge of the ‘back door’ and began to stand out by appearing in 63 games (72⅓ innings) and leaving a phenomenal record of 3 wins, 2 losses, 12 holds, 33 saves, and an ERA of 0.87. . Afterwards, Matsui achieved 30 saves for three consecutive years through the 2017 season, and had a somewhat poor 2018 season, but recovered with 2 wins, 8 losses, 12 holds, 38 saves, and an ERA of 1.94 in 68 games (69⅔ innings) in 2019.
Matsui recorded 24 saves in 2021, and continued the good trend with 32 saves last year. This year, in 59 games (57⅓ innings), he recorded 2 wins, 3 losses, 8 holds, 39 saves, and an ERA of 1.57, leading the Japanese professional baseball history. He became the youngest player to reach 200 saves. And he won the title of ‘King of Saves’ for the third time in his career and for the second consecutive year.
Matsui is also well known to Korean baseball fans, because Lee Dae-ho, the ‘No. 4 hitter of Joseon’, was particularly weak to Matsui when he was playing in Japan. His overall record against opponents was very weak, with no hits in 15 at-bats. In addition, Matsui has played for the Japanese national team in the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Premier 12 in 2015 and the World Baseball Classic (WBC) in 2017 and 2023.
Matsui obtained FA (free agent) status at the end of this season, allowing him to compete overseas. After Matsui expressed his intention to challenge for the major league, new manager Toshiaki Imae discouraged Matsui from challenging for the major league, saying, “I hope we can be together next year,” but on the 25th, he directly contacted President Masayuki Morii and asked him to advance to the major league. declared.굿모닝토토 도메인
According to ‘Daily Sports’, this news was officially announced by the Rakuten team. President Masayuki Morii said, “Matsui contacted me saying he wanted to try overseas. He said that considering his age, now is his opportunity.” Despite playing for 10 seasons in Japan, Matsui is still only 27 years old. Even though he turns 28 next year, he is a pitcher who is sufficiently competitive in the major leagues considering his career and abilities he has accumulated so far.
Matsui has already completed all preparations to enter the major league. According to ‘Sports Hochi’, Matsui signed a contract with Brian Minniti of WME, a large American agency who served as assistant to the general manager at the Philadelphia Phillies and Arizona Diamondbacks. He is also very interested. On September 16, nine teams, including the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Chicago Cubs, watched Matsui pitch.
President Moiri said, “I tried to persuade him to stay as much as possible. Negotiations have already been held three or four times, but he seems to have thought that now is an opportunity to challenge. I want to support Matsui’s advancement to the major leagues. If the transfer destination is a domestic club, of course it is another club.” “I wish it wouldn’t go to , but it’s difficult to stop it because it’s a player’s right,” he explained.
If Yamamoto, Imanaga, Uwasawa, and even Matsui all succeed in signing contracts with major league clubs after this season’s schedule is completed, it is expected that four Japanese major leaguers will be born in the 2024 season alone.