Kazuo Matsui has signed a contract with the Rakuten Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan, effectively ending his seven-year stint in the Major Leagues, the Associated Press reported on Thursday.
The second baseman arrived in the big leagues with the Mets in 2004 and later played for the Rockies and Astros.
The switch-hitting speedster was heralded as a top-flight talent out of Japan, and for a brief while, it appeared he'd live up to that billing.
In his Major League debut on April 6, 2004, Matsui reached base in all five of his plate appearances against the Braves, going 3-for-3 with two walks, a home run and two doubles. That, however, proved to be the apex of his tenure in New York, as he struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness until he was traded to the Rockies on June 9, 2006, in exchange for Eli Marrero.
Matsui briefly reestablished himself with Colorado, posting a solid 2007 campaign and playing especially well in the postseason during the Rockies' run to the World Series.
That performance earned him a three-year contract with the Astros prior to 2008, but once again injuries and inconsistencies derailed his tenure in Houston before he was released on May 24. He was re-signed by the Rockies on May 25 but remained in Colorado's Minor League system for the season's balance.
The 35-year-old has a .267 career batting average with 32 homers and 102 steals in 630 games.
Dan Mennella is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.