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Padres Sign Top Japanese Closer Yuki Matsui to Five-Year Contract

In an effort to shore up their bullpen, the San Diego Padres are bringing in a top talent from overseas.

The Padres signed Japanese closer Yuki Matsui to a five-year contract on Saturday, the team announced. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported the deal is worth $28 million.

Josh Hader, San Diego’s closer the past two seasons, is currently an unrestricted free agent.

Speculation that Matsui would make the jump to MLB began in October, when reports from Japan indicated the closer would listen to overtures from North American teams.

The 28-year-old has saved 236 games in 10 seasons for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, a figure that would rank 42nd all-time if achieved in MLB. He registered a career-best 39 saves in ’23 with 72 strikeouts and a 1.57 ERA across 57 1/3 innings of work.

Matsui’s move comes two days after the Los Angeles Dodgers reportedly signed pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto—another one of NPB’s most formidable mound talents—to a 12-year, $325 million contract.

The Padres are reeling from a disappointing 82–80 season after reaching the NLCS in 2022.

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