Is this the end for Hideki Matsui as a Yankee? According to Jayson Stark of ESPN.com, it looks like it:
A league source told ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney that the Angels and Matsui were closing in on a one-year deal for about $6.5 million.
The 35-year-old Matsui had hoped to return to the Yankees after a season in which he hit 28 home runs and eventually became the World Series MVP. However, the Yankees appear to be prioritizing left field and starting pitching, leaving Matsui as a Plan C option. So the talks with the Angels indicate he wasn't prepared to wait any longer for the Yankees to determine whether to pursue him."
Aside from Matsui's age and injury history, there is plenty for Angels fans to like about this deal should it become official.
Matsui would give the Angels another potent left handed bat in the middle of the order and give the L.A. offense, one of the mot balanced attacks in baseball, even more balance and depth. At this stage in his career, Matsui is more of an offensive threat than Vladimir Guerrero, who the Angels will now almost certainly let go.
From an economic standpoint, Matsui makes tons of sense for the Angels. It is only a one-year commitment and it give the Angels the ability to make a run at John Lackey or another big-name starting pitcher. This deal is very similar to the one the Angels gave Bobby Abreu last season (one year/$5 million) and we all know how well that turned out for the Angels.
Keep in mind what Matsui means to the Angels economically based on revenue and endorsements from Japan. His popularity in Japan alone should make this deal economically beneficial for the Angels.
The key to this deal is keeping Matsui healthy, a challenge given how bad Matsui's knees are and his age (35). But if he's healthy, look for Matsui to club 25 to 30 homers within the deep and balanced Angels lineup.