According to a report by Ken Rosenthal, Padres general manager A.J. Preller and director of player personnel Logan White met with recently with Japanese free agent Nabuhiro Matsuda.
*Special note this was brought to Rosenthal’s attention by die-hard San Diego Sports fan…@bigyettisd…. kudos
#Padres execs A.J. Preller and Logan White met this week with Japanese free-agent 3B Nabuhiro Matsuda, as first reported by Sponichi.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 24, 2015
The initial interest on the Padres end was first reported by Jon Heyman, and it appears Matsuda is looking to sign a free agent deal with an MLB team. Given his status as a free agent, no posting fee is required and all thirty teams can negotiate with Matsuda at any time.
Japanese 3B-2B Nobu Matsuda, 32, has declared for free agency with hopes of MLB deal. Hit 35 HR for softbank. — Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) November 9, 2015
Matsuda is a 32-year-old free agent who is known for playing both second and third base, although third base appears to be the more likely fit. Matsuda has spent his ten year career in the Japanese Pacific League, all with Softbank. In his most recent season with Softbank, Matsuda finished the season with a slash line of .287/.357/.533/.889 with 35 home runs and 85 runs batted in. His most recent season was far and away the best of his career in terms of power numbers, and he should draw some interest from several MLB teams.
At third base, Matsuda committed only eight errors in 143 games in 2015, and finished with a fielding percentage of .976. Matsuda is not a great defender by any stretch of the imagination but he does enough to get by. If he is able to produce the power numbers that he produced last season in Japan, a team may be able to overlook any defensive concerns.
For the Padres, this type of fit makes at least some sense on the surface. A.J. Preller is looking to upgrade the Padres roster, and clearly will explore all options to get that done. This includes looking into the Asian market, which has received even more increased attention in recent years with the success of players such as Masahiro Tanaka, Yu Darvish, and Ichiro Suzuki. While Matsuda may be within a lower tier of players, the potential is definitely still there.
In terms of current roster construction, the Padres have a few possible issues to sort out. As it currently stands the Padres have both Yangervis Solarte and Will Middlebrooks as third baseman for next year as well as Jedd Gyorko and Cory Spangenberg at second base. This leaves no easy roster spot for Matsuda. While Gyorko and Spangenberg seem safe, the Padres could choose to non-tender Will Middlebrooks, especially after a poor first season in town. Solarte on the other hand had a bit of a breakout season and should earn more playing time in 2015. It is unclear if Matsuda would be better than Solarte, but it may be worth the chance for some better Spring training competition.
Obviously it is still too early to look too far into this meeting, but the fit is definitely intriguing. According to Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune, the meeting did not involve any contract negotiations and was only an expression of the Padres interest in Matsuda as a free agent. Lin also stated that Preller declined comment on the Padres interest in Matsuda, but with this meeting in mind, the interest is clearly there.