NEW YORK (AP) – Hideki Matsui and the Yankees closed in Tuesday on a four-year contract worth about $52 million that will keep the popular outfielder in New York

Matsui’s agent, Arn Tellem, and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman hoped to reach an agreement by the end of the night, meeting the Nov. 15 deadline contained in Matsui’s first contract with the Yankees.

That deal stated that if there is no agreement by then, New York must place the outfielder on unconditional release waivers, which would mean the Yankees could not re-sign him until May 15. Matsui is coming off a $21 million, three-year contract in which he earned an additional $1.5 million in performances bonuses.

A three-time MVP in Japan’s Central League with the Yomiuri Giants, Matsui has been one of the Yankees more productive hitters. He batted .305 with 23 homers and 116 RBIs last season.

After agreeing to a new contract to stay on as general manager, Cashman said that re-signing Matsui was his first priority.

In other Yankees news, New York exercised its $1.5 million option on reliever Tanyon Sturtze rather than paying a $150,000 buyout.

The 35-year old right-hander was 5-3 with a 4.73 ERA and one save in one start and 63 relief appearances.

AP-ES-11-15-05 1806EST

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