HOUSTON — The Houston Astros announced on Sunday that the club has signed free-agent infielder Kazuo Matsui to a three-year, $16.5-million contract. The announcement was made by General Manager Ed Wade, following Matsui’s passed physical at The Methodist Hospital on Sunday morning.
The 32-year-old Matsui hit .288 with four home runs and 37 RBIs for Colorado in 2007. He also hit 24 doubles and six triples while stealing a career-best 32 bases and scoring a career-high 84 runs for the Rockies last season. Additionally, Matsui was one of only six switch-hitters in 2007 (Chone Figgins, Jose Reyes, Brian Roberts, Jimmy Rollins, and Shane Victorino) to record at least 30 extra-base hits and 30 stolen bases.
“Kaz is an ideal fit for our club,” said Wade. “He’s an outstanding defensive second baseman and is a perfect fit to hit second behind Michael Bourn. Kaz runs extremely well. He steals bases, moves runners and takes the extra base; he plays the game the right way. With he and Bourn at the top, followed by [Hunter] Pence, [Lance] Berkman and [Carlos] Lee, we should have a very potent offensive attack.”
In 375 career Major League games over four seasons with the New York Mets (2004-06) and Colorado (2006-07), Matsui has hit .272 (376-for-1,380) with 17 home runs, 131 RBIs, and 62 stolen bases. Matsui also hit .304 (14-for-46) with one home run during the Rockies’ National League Championship playoff run in 2007, including six RBIs and a .417 (5-for-12) average in the National League Division Series.
Matsui was originally signed by the New York Mets as a free agent on Dec. 17, 2003 and was acquired by Colorado from the Mets on June 9, 2006. He was born on Oct. 23, 1975 in Osaka, Japan, and played nine seasons for the Seibu Lions of the Japanese League from 1995-2003. During that time span, he hit .309 (1,433-for-4,638) with 150 home runs, 569 RBIs, and 306 stolen bases for Seibu. He earned Pacific League Most Valuable Player honors in 1998, and in 2002, he became only the eighth Japanese player since 1950 to hit .300 or higher with at least 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases (.332-36-87, 33 SB).