So far, the San Diego Padres haven't done a whole lot to add to their roster this offseason after losing a host of talent. However, one notable exception has been in their bullpen, which has undergone a substantial overhaul after Josh Hader left town and signed with the Astros.
The additions of Yuki Matsui, Woo Suk Go, and Wandy Peralta don't carry the same sort of star power in the relief corps that Hader led, but they do give the Padres a lot of depth in the late innings. Given the state of San Diego' rotation at the moment, such a strategy looks pretty wise as a way to cover innings.
In particular, adding Yuki Matsui represents a great value considering his track record and arsenal. Matsui possesses a splitter that was borderline unhittable during his 10 seasons in Japan. He also boasts a mid-90s fastball and a slider. It isn't a given that his stuff will translate against MLB hitters, but his ability to miss bats could lead to big things for him in 2024.
Matsui made his press debut this weekend as Padres spring training opened to a throng of reporters eager to hear from him. Most of these spring intro player interviews don't yield all that much, but Matsui had a nice surprise for the press corps when it was revealed that he wanted to make an opening statement.
Yuki Matsui's opening statement in English and Spanish has every Padres fan rooting for him
There will certainly be some who respond with some variation of "what's the big deal?" here, but Matsui's effort shouldn't go unnoticed. English is obviously not his first language, and him taking the time to craft and learn an intro in both English and Spanish could not have been easy.
These are the little gestures that will immediately make Padres fans fall in love with him. He didn't have to go through the trouble and he could have given the press corps the boilerplate answers that most players do entering camp. Instead, he made sure to speak directly to San Diego's multicultural fan base and let them know he's excited to be here and wants to win. Fans don't forget that sort of thing.
Ultimately, Matsui will be judged on the field. If he struggles out there and falls flat when put in big spots, fans will most assuredly turn on him relatively quickly. However, he has a lot more fans rooting for him now than before and if he succeeds, he could become a Padres fan favorite very, very quickly.