Yuki Matsui can earn $33.6 million over 5 years with Padres if he becomes San Diego’s closer


Yuki Matsui in the middle of pitching.

SAN DIEGO’S NEW IMPORT — Rakuten Eagles pitcher Yuki Matsui pitches against the Nippon Ham Fighters in their Pacific League game at Sendai’s Rakuten Mobile Park on Oct. 5, 2023. Kyodo News photo

AP Baseball Writer

NEW YORK — Yuki Matsui can earn $33.6 million over five seasons with the San Diego Padres if the Japanese reliever becomes the team’s closer, and the pitcher could opt out of the deal after three years and $14.5 million if his pitching elbow remains healthy.

Matsui’s agreement, announced Dec. 23, is a $28 million, five-year deal that includes salaries of $3.25 million this year, $5.5 million in 2025, $5.75 million in 2026, $6.5 million in 2027 and $7 million in 2028, according to contract terms obtained Jan. 2 by The Associated Press.

The 5-foot-8 left-hander would have the right to opt out after the 2026 season if he has not had Tommy John surgery or has not had an elbow injury that caused more than 130 consecutive days on the injured list spanning 2024 and ‘25.

If he does have Tommy John surgery or has an elbow injury causing more than 130 consecutive days on the injured list spanning ‘24 and ’25, San Diego has a conditional $7 million option for 2028. If the conditions for the team option aren’t met, Matsui has a $7 million player option for 2028.

Matsui has $1.4 million in annual escalators that would increase his salary in the following season if earned from 2024-27. He would get $150,000 for 15 games finished, $250,000 each for 25, 35 and 45 and $500,000 for 55.

He cannot be traded without his consent. He also gets an interpreter, a hotel suite on road trips and annual roundtrip tickets to Japan. He will become a free agent when the contract ends.

Matsui made his Japanese big league debut at age 18 and became a five-time All-Star for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, leading the Pacific League in saves in 2019, 2022 and 2023. Matsui, who turned 28 in October, had a career-best 39 saves with a 1.57 ERA and 2-3 record this season, striking out 72 and walking 13 in 57 1/3 innings.

He has a 2.40 career ERA, 236 saves and a 1.11 WHIP in Nippon Professional Baseball. Matsui became the youngest pitcher in the Japanese major leagues to reach 200 saves.

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