A's showing a strong interest in Matsui
Oakland not the only team considering veteran lefty slugger
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Hideki Matsui may not be seen as the most attractive free agent on the market, but looks are in the eye of the beholder. Or, at least the pursuer.
The A's have shown a strong level of interest in acquiring the 36-year-old slugger, whose presence would immediately fill Oakland's vacancy at designated hitter. General manager Billy Beane met with Matsui's agent, Arn Tellem, on Monday at the Winter Meetings, but Tellem refused to divulge any information about the gathering while addressing a group of reporters on Tuesday.
"They are private meetings," Tellem said, "and it's not really my style to comment until I really have something to say."
According to Tellem, Oakland isn't the only team in on his client. In fact, "several" clubs have expressed interest in his bat, and Tellem expects to hear from even more.
Matsui, who made $6 million this past year, finished the 2010 campaign with a .274 average and .820 OPS to go along with 21 homers and 84 RBIs. The latter numbers would represent a large upgrade for Oakland, as Kevin Kouzmanoff and Kurt Suzuki led the A's this season with 71 RBIs in 551 and 495 at-bats, respectively. Kouzmanoff also led the team in homers with 16.
Tellem was rather vague when speaking about Matsui's contract wishes, but he did lay out what the Japanese veteran values most.
"I think he wants to play on a regular basis and contribute to a team, and be on a team with a chance to be competitive in the race and looking for the support of a positive environment," he said. "I believe we'll find one of those."
Oakland seemingly fits that mold, as the club believes it boasts the pitching staff and -- hopefully by offseason's end -- just enough added elements necessary to fight for a postseason berth. Matsui would figure to receive the everyday DH job, with possible intermittent stints in the outfield if needed.
Tellem added that, at this point, Matsui does not have a location preference and is open to listening to all teams.
"I think we'll have a better sense after I go through all the meetings this week," he said.