Kazuo Matsui, who left the Seibu Lions as a free agent after the 2003 season, will return to his first pro club next season, a source said on Thursday.
Matsui, the 1998 Pacific League MVP for the Lions, spent seven seasons in the majors, where he played for the New York Mets, Colorado Rockies and Houston Astros. He had been with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles since 2011 and contributed to the team’s first PL and Japan Series championship in 2013.
But with the Eagles, the former star shortstop has played a limited role as a backup the past two seasons. He batted .213 in 2016 and .211 this year, and is not a part of Rakuten’s plans for 2018.
The Lions are expected to announce Matsui’s return on Friday.