Now that we are in the after glow of the World Series, the Yankees have to start to consider what to do with Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui. John Harper of Newsday wonders if this is the last hurrah for Godzilla as a Yankee or could the World Series MVP be back in pinstripes again next year.
"I have no idea right now," he said with a smile through his interpreter after last night's game. "I hope so."
For weeks, even months, there have been whispers around the Yankees that there is no way the ballclub will bring back both Matsui and Johnny Damon, each of whose four-year contract is expiring.
GM Brian Cashman has made no secret of wanting to get younger overall, while also acknowledging a possible need to spread the use of the DH spot around, especially with catcher Jorge Posada turning 39 next season and Alex Rodriguez perhaps needing further hip surgery this offseason.
Of the two, Matsui always seemed more expendable because the condition of his knees has taken him out of the outfield and turned him into strictly a DH, one who doesn't run well anymore. Damon, meanwhile, can still be serviceable in left field, and, as we saw in Game 4, help win games with his speed as well as his bat.
If Matsui is indeed not resigned (
and decides to continue to play in the U.S. which isn't a given), I would love to see the guy in a Ranger uniform and not just for his porn collection. The guy kills lefties to the tune of .282/.358/.616 last year and fits in with what the Rangers needs. He would be mainly a DH with a bit of OF or even first base in a pinch.
The question is of course price. Hopefully NL GMs will be smart enough to not give the guy a full time OF position. Hoping for smart GMs in the majors is always a hazard, but if the Yankees are not resigning him because they need to use the DH for Posada (eventually), that should set off some alarms to other clubs. If the NL teams stay out of the bidding, it's down to the 13 other AL clubs.
The wild card of course is the possibility he could go to Japan which would overpay to get Matsui back and where he would be treated as a super star.
UPDATE Matsui ruled out the possibility of going back to Japan.
I would think the Abreu deal ( 2 years, $19M) would be the model since both are the same age and play roughly the same position. Do the Rangers have that kind of cash? There's a ton of money coming off the books and the payroll will be lower if the Rangers don't do anything, even after raises, buyouts, and arbitration. If the team can get sold quickly (cross your fingers everybody) then the new owners will likely bring the payroll up to the league average (cross your toes now) and have money to spend on a bat.
Despite their money problems, there are still rumblings of the Rangers maybe paying for Marlon Byrd to stay even now. If the Rangers have the money to pay Byrd, then they have the money to pay Matsui. And really, who would you rather have? While Byrd can play the OF better than Matsui, he's not going to have as good a bat. Plus the Rangers have enough young toolsy outfielders that they can afford to lose Byrd's defense if it means an upgrade on offense.
I know this is all a pipe dream most likely, but hey, that's what the offseason is for right?