NEW YORK – Hideki Matsui and the Yankees agreed on a $51 million, four-year contract late Tuesday night.

A news conference has been scheduled for Wednesday at Yankee Stadium to discuss the deal.

Earlier in the evening, before the deal was hammered out, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told reporters via e-mail, “We are in the red zone, trying to get it done still.”

Cashman was in direct contact with Matsui’s agent, Arn Tellem, late Monday night and again on Tuesday.

Matsui has averaged .297 with 23 homers and 110 RBI in his three seasons with the Yankees.

A three-time MVP in Japan’s Central League with the Yomiuri Giants, Matsui has been one of the Yankees’ most productive hitters, and has played in every game the past three years.

Tuesday was the mutually agreed upon deadline for getting a deal done with the Yankees. Without an agreement, the Yankees would have been required to release Matsui, who would have then become a free agent and could not have been re-signed by the Yanks until May 15.

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AP-NY-11-15-05 2316EST

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