• Kyodo


The New York Yankees could show interest in Japanese right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka if he becomes available for a switch to the major leagues in the upcoming offseason, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

But the daily indicated the Yankees will likely keep most of their starters and other pitchers with starting potential for the next season, leaving them with limited choices in adding new signings to their rotation.

“If Japan’s Seibu Lions make their ace pitcher, Daisuke Matsuzaka, available to bidding by major-league teams, the Yankees could be tempted,” The New York Times said in its online edition.

It is uncertain whether Seibu will allow Matsuzaka to pursue a career in the United States via the posting system, in which MLB teams present sealed bids for Japanese players.

Some Japanese press reports have said the Lions want to keep the 25-year-old, who needs to use the posting system if he wants to join a major-league team before he becomes a free agent after the 2008 season.

Matsuzaka finished the 2005 season with a 14-13 record and a 2.30 ERA. He led the Pacific League with 226 strikeouts, 15 complete games, three shutouts and 215 innings pitched.

The New York Times also said the Yankees will try to re-sign Hideki Matsui, whose three-year contract expires this year.

“The Yankees will certainly try to keep Hideki Matsui, the steady left fielder who has expressed a preference to stay in New York,” it said. “(Owner George) Steinbrenner loathes Matsui’s agent, Arn Tellem, but Matsui has been so productive and generated so much good will that it would be surprising if the Yankees let him go.”

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