7) Kazuo Matsui
The Kazuo Matsui signing looked so good on paper. The Mets were able to nail down a second baseman who, in Japan, was capable of hitting 36 home runs and even stealing 62 bases in a single season to a 3 year, $20.1 million contract before the 2004 season. What a steal!
Matsui homered on the first pitch he saw in the majors and finished his first season 6th in Rookie of the Year voting. Maybe he would usher in a new era for the Mets.
He didn’t. Matsui turned out to be a major disappointment. He played just 239 games in total for the Mets and accumulated 0.5 WAR before being traded in 2006 with cash to the Colorado Rockies for Eli Marrero. Marrero played 25 games for the Mets in 2006 then never played in the big leagues again.
But, Matsui, on the other hand, slashed .345/.392/.504 down the stretch for the Rockies. The Rockies even re-signed him to a one year, $1.5 million deal in 2007. Matsui ended up hitting .288/.342/.405 with 32 stolen bases in just 96 starts. Moreover, he was an important contributor to the Rockies winning their first and only National League pennant.
Matsui played three more productive seasons with the Astros then spent the rest of his baseball career in the Japan Pacific League. He retired in 2018.
When all was said and done, Matsui exhibited more power, more stolen bases, and better defense on the Rockies and Astros than he ever did with the Mets. In fact, he did it for less money too. The Mets really stepped outside their comfort zone to sign Matsui and were ultimately punished for it.