The San Diego Padres with General Manager A.J. Preller and Director of Player Development Logan White have met with Japanese third baseman free agent Nobuhiro Matsuda on a scouting trip through Asia, as reported by Quinn Roberts. This is an exciting move for a team looking for left side of the infield options.
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The third baseman is 32 years old which certainly adds a bit of uncertainty to the equation, but did hit 35 home runs last season with a .357 OBP.
As Ichiro Suzuki continues his quest for 3,000 hits in Major League Baseball, Japanese player power hitters are a little less known commodity. Hideki Matsui came to the United States at the age of 29 and ended up playing 10 years with nearly 200 home runs. This after a successful 10 year career in Japan where hit hit over 300 home runs in roughly the same time frame and the front half of his career.
The Padres at this point have penciled in Yangervis Solarte for the starting third base job, but rumors continue to swirl around Jedd Gyorko with the emergence of Corey Spangenberg and the possibility that he might be an everyday second baseman for the team. Gyorko played shortstop near the end of last season, and this could be seen as a stop-gap option if the team is unable to acquire a (real) shortstop this off-sesaon, or he could be used as trade fodder this off-season.
Matsuda is a free agent so teams do not have to go through the normal posting process which can be quite expensive just for teams to have the rights to negotiate a contract. Over his ten year Japanese career, Matsuda hit 161 home runs and nearly 600 RBI with a .277 BA.
It is a good sign to me that Preller continues to keep all doors open for the Padres. Last year he showed himself at least able to resort to Plan B when perhaps his first choice didn’t work out the way he intended. With just over three and a half until Spring Training begins, it will be exciting to see how things shake out.