Report: Astros beat Cubs to Matsui

Published: 11/30/2007 12:15 AM

Did the Houston Astros steal a free agent away from the Cubs or save the Cubs from themselves?

That question apparently will be answered over the next three years. The Astros reportedly have agreed with free-agent second baseman Kaz Matsui on a three-year contract worth $15 million.

Cubs general manager Jim Hendry was in the Dominican Republic Thursday and could not be reached late. Earlier Thursday, Hendry said: "We're definitely interested. We'd like to have him."

The switch-hitting Matsui, 32, played for the National League-champion Colorado Rockies this year, batting .288 with 4 home runs and a .342 on-base percentage, well above his career OBP of .325. Matsui's career OBP was one reason the Cubs' interest was not sitting well with many of their fans.

The other was that current second baseman Mark DeRosa enjoyed an above-average year, with a .371 OBP and 10 homers. The Cubs had planned to use Matsui at second base while putting DeRosa into a super-utility role.

The Cubs will go to next week's winter meetings looking for left-handed hitting.