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Of course the Yankees are going to re-sign Hideki Matsui: he pays for himself

Nov 19, 2009, 9:25 AM EDT

Via MLB Trade Rumors comes a Tweet from NPB Tracker in which it is claimed that Hideki Matsui’s mere presence on the New York Yankees accounts for “at least” $15 million in annual revenue.  NPB bases this assertion on a report that’s written in Japanese, so it’s hard to say where this figure comes from, but we can spitball it a little, can’t we?

One obvious source of income that would presumably dry up if Matsui leaves are those Japanese language billboards that appear on the Yankee Stadium outfield wall and behind home plate and stuff during games.  I’m not privy to how much revenue those bring, but I do know that the Cubs recently entered into a a five-year, $10.8 million deal with Under Armour to have its logo displayed on the outfield doors at Wrigley Field.

That led to some litigation which at least suggested that the deal wasn’t worth the money to Under Armour (UA wanted out from under the deal, the Cubs sued to keep it in place), so a ~$2 million a year value for that may be high as these things go. At least in Chicago and at least when it doesn’t involve the Japanese market.  Let’s say that the Yankee Stadium ads are worth half again as much as the UA ads are. $3-4 million? I could totally see that.

After that, figure in a few million for Matsui and Yankee merch in Japan.  Then figure in the fact that a bunch more eyes are watching Yankee broadcasts in Japan as well.  Once you start adding these things up, it’s not hard to envision a situation in which, even if Matsui’s contract isn’t totally paid for, it’s heavily subsidized by revenue specific to his presence on the roster.

In the ordinary course it makes little sense to sign a 35 year-old guy who can only DH to a multi-year deal in excess of eight figures annually.  In light of the Matsui-related revenue, however, I’d be shocked if the Yankees didn’t sign the guy.

  1. Old Gator - Nov 19, 2009 at 10:12 AM

    And why not? Can you imagine how many jobs Godzilla must have created in the Tokyo rebuilding project in 1954?

  2. jimbeetle - Nov 19, 2009 at 11:01 AM

    In the old Stadium and I assume also in the new, the Yankees had a camera mounted on the facade along the left field line that had one purpose — all Hidkei, all the time, for is fans back home.
    Not sure if this is a practice anywhere else around baseball, but they probably do make a pretty penny. Enough to offset part of his salary?

  3. TF in Tampa - Nov 19, 2009 at 11:14 AM

    Matsui and the Yanks are a natural fit. The NY stage leading to the mega city media coverage is what brings the best players to the Bronx. Its still ALL about the business of winning games and making money, and the Yankees know how to make money and pay their employees/players to attain their goals. According to a recent Forbes Mag report, NY Yankees net worth is $1.3 billion, and climbing, I would presume.
    I don’t belive that Hideki Matsui has been brainwashed, to the point that so many other overpaid egotistical sports figures are just looking for the $$$, as to say no to a new contract remaining as the DH for the premier current World Champions with all expections to repeat in 2010.

  4. Joe - Nov 19, 2009 at 12:21 PM

    Are the Japanese the only ones interested in Yankee Stadium billboards? Or might a substantial portion of the billboard revenue be replaced by another sponsor were the Japanese to pull out? We are talking the World Champion Yankees here. There might be a market.
    In re: other Matsui-related revenues, perhaps they lose all the other Japanese revenue, but there are other ways to make that up. For example, a better player might contribute to more playoff success over the next few years, which leads to more playoff revenues.
    It’s not actually “lost” revenue if it’s replaced by another revenue source.

  5. Brett - Nov 19, 2009 at 1:41 PM

    I’ll buy some of the Japanese-specific merchandising. But I doubt that the Japanese companies advertising at Yankee Stadium were willing to pay $3-4M more than the next best bid. Hard for me to believe that the Yankees couldn’t make up at least 90% of that revenue with other people who might want to buy billboards.

  6. Dan - Nov 19, 2009 at 6:07 PM

    While the Yankees have paid Mr. Matsui $52 million the past four years, the investment seems to have more than paid for itself. By having him on the team, the Yankees have been able to generate nearly $20 million a year in marketing and sponsorship revenue from Japanese companies, according to a person familiar with the deals.
    It’s not clear that the Yankees will lose money if Mr. Matsui leaves. The team has been a popular brand in Japan since Babe Ruth toured the country in 1934. It has about six Japanese sponsors and has expanded its reach in the country by launching a joint-marketing relationship with the Yomiuri Giants, known as “the Yankees of Japan,” and opening an office in Tokyo. “There will come a day when Hideki Matsui is not on the Yankees, and that day might be next season,” says Marc Ganis, a sports-industry consultant who has worked with the team. “But don’t be surprised if the team has a strategy for that, too.”
    Whatever happens, Mr. Matsui’s MVP award seems to mark the end of one chapter in the history of Japanese players and the beginning of another. Even Japanese baseball fans, who have followed every step of Mr. Matsui’s career with overwhelming interest, aren’t stunned by the idea that one of their own could become a great team’s center of gravity.

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