7) NY Mets worst free agent signing: Kazuo Matsui
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, there was a craze for pitchers from Japan to come over to North America and play Major League Baseball. Some exceled. Ichiro Suzuki is one of the greats of the game. The guy the Mets signed, Kazuo Matsui, wasn’t close.
The deal, signed prior to the 2004 season, was a three-year contract worth $20 million. It was good money in those days. The Mets were going into a different market to answer their shortstop question.
It was odd, though, because they had a young kid named Jose Reyes around, too. Reyes spent a lot of the 2004 season at second base while Matsui had shortstop duties. It proved to be a bad plan with the two swapping spots in 2005.
In his two-plus years with the Mets, Matsui batted .256/.308/.363 with no particular number standing out other than hitting a home run in his first at-bat. He performed like a number eight hitter might yet he was getting paid as if he was going to help turn the franchise around.
The Mets ended up trading him in June of 2006 to the Colorado Rockies in exchange for Eli Marrero. The excitement and the hype had officially ended. Matsui was an international free agent bust the team had never experienced before.