Kazuo Matsui, 2004-2006
Our final entry on this list is an international one. Kazuo Matsui came to the Mets with a lot of hype for the 2004 season. Imported from Japan, he was one of the best players in the Nippon League for the Seibu Lions. Optimistic fans were hoping they were about to land a guy at least close to playing at the same level as Ichiro Suzuki.
Well, that’s not how it turned out. Matsui turned out to look a lot different from the pictures he shared with us online. He didn’t have the same career or goals in life as he claimed.
Matsui catfished the Mets into thinking they were landing a multi-time All-Star. Instead, they got a good role-player that didn’t even make it through his third season with the club.
International free agents are always more of a gamble than any other because of all factors going into the deal. Switching countries and cultures in itself can be hard on a person. I don’t care if the game is played the same way, it’s hard to make a life in a completely different place while trying to excel at a job as competitive as professional sports.
For whatever it’s worth, Matsui did manage to accomplish one of the greatest feats in club history. In each of his three seasons with the team, he hit a home run in his first at-bat. Short on power during his major league career, he might be one of the last guys you would expect to do something as remarkable as this.
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Which other Mets free agent signings do you wish Nev and Max could have helped us out with?