OCT. 30: Akiyama has informed the Lions that he’ll file for free agency in hopes of signing in MLB, Allen reports.
OCT. 21: You may have noticed that this winter’s slate of free agents isn’t exactly teeming with high-end center fielders. That state of affairs led us to examine recently what could be a robust trade market for Pirates star Starling Marte. With so much demand and so little obvious supply, the timing may be just right for a relatively unknown option up the middle.
Center fielder Shogo Akiyama is known well to fans of Nippon Professional Baseball. The 31-year-old, a left-handed hitter, has starred for the Seibu Lions since a breakout 2015 season. He’s a .301 lifetime hitter with strong plate discipline. More recently, his power has been on the rise, with a total of 69 home runs over the past three seasons.
Akiyama has long carried an excellent reputation for glovework up the middle, veteran NPB scribe Jim Allen observes, though it seems that his prowess may have taken a bit of a downturn more recently. No doubt MLB scouts have taken a close look for themselves already. Akiyama isn’t exceptionally youthful, but he has been quite durable, so that’s another feather in his cap.
NPB recently confirmed that Akiyama is an international free agent, meaning he’s free to sign with any team in any league in the world without going through a posting system. The lack of a transfer fee certainly increases the appeal. MLB teams can approach Akiyama more or less as they would any other available player.
As a recent Yahoo Japan report covers, the Seibu Lions have made clear that they intend to pursue Akiyama with a long-term offer. Other NPB clubs may also be involved, that report indicates. But MLB outfits have been tracking him as well. The report suggests that at least four teams — the Mariners, Padres, Diamondbacks, and Cubs — have at least taken a look at Akiyama.
Akiyama is not the only intriguing Japanese player who’ll factor in the offseason market. Fellow star outfielder Yoshitomo Tsutsugo has already indicated a clear interest in coming over via the posting system; it remains to be seen how his market will develop.
Toronto have to be in on this guy, right? Need a centre fielder badly and need some left handed hitting badly. Please sign him Atkins
He’s 31… are the Jay’s contending next year?
I doubt they would sign him to a one-year deal. Say he gets three years, the Jays could easily be in contention within that time.
Are you suggesting that he’s only signing a 1 year pact?!?
Wouldn’t matter if they are contending or not. He’s not going to prohibitively expensive and he could be a potential trade candidate if they decide that’s what they want to do. I didn’t realize free agents (especially lower —mid tier ones) were required to sign with talented teams only.
Except talented, err sorry, expected contending teams will come calling and will very likely be more attractive than Toronto.
If he was like 28 the Jays should have easily made a run at him. But, wrong side of 30 and signs of decline? Atkins won’t touch that
Yeah Atkins prefers guys who k at 40% who catch balls with his face. Also negative war player like Drury.
Hey ya firegibby, I see you are still wondering around posting your ant-Jays, anti-management nonsense, might be time for ya to get some new material and oh yeah by the way Gibby is not the Jays manager in case ya missed that too!
What about the Giants? Surely they need a guy who can play center sometimes and pretty well who could easily play left most of the time. But more than anything else he would be the leadoff hitter they so badly need with contact/on-base percentage. ability and some occasional pop. He and Dubon would be an ideal one-two punch followed by Yaz in the three slot with an Asdrubal Carera and Solano you’d have an interchangeable one, two three punch.
I don’t know if you can realistically expect this guy to be better than Pillar. The giants can certainly afford to roll the dice in a likely non competitive year but I could see an argument for not doing so. Could see an argument for just rolling with Duggar also.
Mets could take a chance. Allows them to use their corner OF guys to fix the pen.
Yeah I mean, it’s not like he could make them worse than they already are
I really doubt the owners spend much more money then they are at. If anything, they might scale back some.
This guy won’t cost a thing, he isn’t Ichiro.
yeah, and keep losing the talents to other sports and eventually there will be hardly any players to give big contracts. yeah, and mlb may then be forced to file bankruptcies.
Lack of talent in this era and Mike Trout is on pace to be one of the greatest of all time. All sports have better players than in the past. There is no lack of talent.
Yeah, he isn’t Ichiro. In fact, he broke Ichiro’s single season hit record a couple years ago.
If he can replicate what he did in japan here I’d take him cf in citifield. 89 walks 90 strikeouts. .388 obp.
only makes sense if he was a RH batter.
Yanks to replace Gardner. They need left handed bats that make contact.
I would rather just keep Gardner on a one-year deal. He’s earned it.
They need Gardner as a 4th OF to start this year regardless. There is room for both until Hicks gets healthy which probably won’t be until after the All Star break.
https://1point02.jp/op/gnav/leaders/pl/pbs_dashboard.aspx?sn=2019&lg=0&tm=0&ps=0&sl=1&sr=0&pn=-1 5.1 WAR (9th for all NPB hitters in 2019.)
2015-2019 AVERAGED 6.5 WAR.
My only Japanese is hello, thank you, and dark beer. Is there an English translation to that site? It looks good.
There IS, just click the check mark for English
Just saw a defensive highlight of Akiyama that was pretty impressive. Seems like he can be a Nori Aoki type contributor. Rooting for him, Tsutsugo, and Yanigata to succeed. Japanese players are generally fun to watch
Hide-o, Hide-o, Nomo pitch and nobody come home
One strike, two strikes, three strikes, OUT!
Nomo pitch and nobody come home
Tornade is coming now!
Nomo pitch and nobody come home
Why does the baseball world go nuts everytime an asian player becomes available to mlb teams? They typically give a few glimpses of baseball brilliance, but with the exception of ichiro they typically have injury issues or become not much more than league average player. Thats been case with darvish, dice-k, tanaka, ohtani, matsui, etc. They should be treated just like and other foreign or amateur player.
Matsui, assuming you mean Hideki and not Kazuo, was a well above average player (21.2 career WAR is nothing to shy away from, and a WS MVP to boot). At his peak in MLB he was an all-star caliber player. Tanaka (17.2) and Darvish (21.8) have been above average pitchers, who have not suffered injuries more frequently than your average American or Latin player (Tanaka has been one of the more durable pitchers in the game). And, Ohtani might end up being better than all of them, not Ichiro of course. While I agree that some fans get overly excited about foreign players (it’s natural to be intrigued by the mysterious), your comparisons do not support your argument.
Wrong! nearly all of the guys you mentioned are/were elite during their careers.
Ohtani (the hitter) has been a top 25 bat via wRC+ (2018-2019)
Matsui’s offensive value was top 50 during his career (2003-2012)
Darvish (2012-2019) & Tanaka (2014-2019) WAR accruals are top 20 arms during their career span.
Typically foreign players come to MLB after they’ve established their stardom with several prime seasons in their domestic league. So it’s possible that some of their peak performance is over by the time they get the chance in the US. Plenty of these players are journeymen, some simply flame out, but the group you listed were/are terrific
Im not saying they werent useful players. But they didnt live up to the hype, their mlb numbers were well shy of their japanese numbers and/or they spent considerable time on dl. Darvish was a decent pitcher for cpl of seasons, but he was not worth the 100+ million the rangers invested in him for 1 superb year and 1 pretty good year. And im sure the cubs r kicking themselves. And u said ohtani the hitter and thats valid but hes spent nearly 1/2 of his time in the states on the dl and was hyped as a hitter AND pitcher, as the 2nd coming of ruth and koufax rolled into 1. I maybe mistaken but i think tanakas us era is nearly double his japanese era. And ok so some were past their prime, thats all the more reason to not buy into the hype. This guys an over 30 cf, do u really think hes gonna have a worthwhile 10 year mlb career?
I think the issue here is unrealistic expectations. If anybody thinks Akiyama will be a successful MLB player through age 40 they’re setting themselves up for disappointment. Hoping for continuation of their numbers in Japan is a fools exercise as well. It’s like expecting Vlad Jr to massacre MLB pitching like he did AAA.
I think the issue here is unrealistic expectations.
I agree with this. Ricky seems to be looking through a prism of ‘these guys aren’t HOF players’.
From my perspective, as a RS fan, and as an amateur, am I better off with JBJ at $11M, or Akiyama at say $18M/3?
I love the analogy. I’m a Giant fan and can see Akiyama at $6M x 3 playing center occasionally with Pillar or playing left, leading off daily. His OBP and moderate power would play well ahead of Yaz, Longoria, Posey.
I know that sounded good to you when you typed it, but that’s an awful 1-4. You could put Altuve and Bregman in front of them, but if you have Longoria and Posey as 3-4.. yikes.
The hype on these players is made by the media and fans.
Not MLB GM’s.
Gotta disagree on every count.
I assume you are unfamiliar with Tanaka & Matsui, but as a RS fan, those two served the NYY pretty well.
IRT treating them like amateurs, the whole point is that they are not amateurs. They aren’t MLB players, but we have track records that are semi-reliable.
Past that, MLB typically doesn’t go nuts. They are just one more option, and often cheap options at that.
The track record for Japanese players is pretty solid. Only Ichiro has been a Hall of Famer, but other guys have come over and been above average to useful. Guys like Nori Aoki and Tad Iguchi were key components to championship teams, and this guy seems to fit that mold. He’s not going to be an All-Star, but he will help a team win games.
Because it doesnt happen a lot. Its maybe the intrigue of the very much unknown and how that will play in our North American game. Open your mind if you dare 🙂
An old, light hitting CF? Just what every team needs. :p
20 hrs 65 rbis is 80 plus walks .389 obp is not necessarily a light hitter, look up billy hamilton that’s a light hitter
He’d never match those numbers here, and 20 HRs is nothing nowadays.
Of course he won’t match them, but that’s not really the point. It is how close he will get is all that matters. If he is a .700 OPS hitter, he is pedestrian. If he has a .750 OPS when he arrives here, that has value.
Expect a competent CF/OF who can hit .280 .350 .450 with 20 home runs and steal 10 bases at his best here in the MLB
Jabari blash is currently hitting bombs at a pretty high rate in the NPB. I’m going to be cautious here and say that’s a highly optimistic outlook. Kosuke Fokudome comes to mind as a guy who
Tore up Japanese pitching at an even better clip and was not all that offensively in the United States.
Of course he certainly doesn’t need to put up the slash line you described to be a competent starting CF either.
Kosuke for who he wasn’t a bad player.
He had a one .359 obp season and two.370 obp seasons.
The rest of his game wasn’t spectacular but he was serviceable.
Considering the hype on him and the numbers he posted in Japan it was definitely a let down. The deal the cubs gave him was fairly large for the time as well. We obviously don’t have a ton of guys coming over from the NPB to use as references. I don’t know anything at all about Akiyama so I have no idea. I check in on the NPB stats page to see how any old MLB guys are performing from time to time and that’s about it.
Centerfield options are scarce so many teams will at least consider him.
Think the Cubs will sigh him though.
If he came to mlb he be a 10-15 hr player. He’s not a star but could be useful
Funny listening to everyone make their projections on what he would do in the MLB. I remember a player The Yankees ended up signing by the name of Hideki Matsui Who was a superstar in Japan and many people over here projected him to be a bust. How did that work out? For those who don’t remember, he was the 2009 world series MVP.
You probably shouldn’t hang your hat so heavily on World Series MVP. Steve Pearce and David Eckstein were World Series MVPs too.
This is another player White Sox should consider.
He can play CF well, is LH at plate, and he gets on base. Any other guys on market for OF either can’t field or will duplicate glut of players who need to hit to get on base.
Once Robert’s manipulation is over, he or Robert can shift to RF.
White Sox should go after both Japanese players on market. They need to increase overall OBP in lineup.
I suspect that CF Shogo Akiyama will be a consideration for both Chicago teams this offseason. I’m less certain about Yoshitomo Tsutsugo who only appears to be an option as a LF/DH/1B in MLB. Tsutsugo will be 28 in November making him 3-1/2 years younger than Akiyama but will also need to go through the posting system whereas Akiyama would be an ‘unrestricted’ free agent.
Aside from a quality veteran starting pitcher, the White Sox greatest need this offseason is a left-handed hitter to balance out a predominantly right-handed batting order. They also have two clear openings in RF and the DH spot which were black holes in 2019.
As you already suggested, Akiyama could join top prospect Luis Robert in the CF/RF mix in 2020 and beyond. Tsutsugo could potentially become the White Sox primary DH. He might also do a DH/LF ‘timeshare’ with Eloy Jimenez although I suspect the White Sox would prefer the latter become more proficient in the outfield before considering him as their future DH. The White Sox also appear to be a front-runner for veteran slugger J.D. Martinez as their core DH should he opt-out of his contract in the coming week.
What is the Japanese equivalent of WAR and sabermetrics? Is this guy any good, or is it OK if I don’t pay attention at all and feign complete ignorance?
Must know BABIP before I consider him any good!! 😉
dynamite drop in monty
https://1point02.jp/op/gnav/leaders/pl/pbs_dashboard.aspx?sn=2019&lg=0&tm=0&ps=0&sl=1&sr=0&pn=-1 here’s the Japanese equivalent: be sure to click the box for English as it’ll assume you’re Japanese if you don’t. This guy is like the Japanese Michael Brantley if that makes any sense so you should keep an eye on him for sure because he’ll likely be a 3-4 WAR player here after being a 6.5 WAR player on average over the last five years in Japan.
This has Cubs written all over it. They desperately need both a lead-off hitter or #2 bat in the top of the lineup and a CF. If Akiyama can just hit close to his .301/.392 BA/OBP I don’t care about what his power numbers would be in MLB.
If I am Jed/Theo I am sending Yu Darvish out to recruit Akiyama. I would think it would have to be an advantage to have another countrymen on your team to help with the transition to a foreign country & MLB in a decision on choosing what team he potentially might sign with.
It would be ironic if the bidding for Shogo Akiyama comes down to the Cubs and White Sox. This is what occurred prior to the 2008 season when both Chicago teams were finalists for Japanese left-handed hitting RF Kosuke Fukudome who chose the Cubs. Fukudome was one year younger than Akiyama that offseason but had better credentials coming over from Japan than what the latter has posted in NPB.
Of course, in typical fashion then White Sox GM Kenny Williams couldn’t help but sign Fukudome to his last MLB free agent contract five years later when the outfielder was 35 and a shell of his former mediocre self. lol
The posting system still needs a lot of correction. Just like MLB service time.
dynamite drop in monty
If the Mets can’t trade for Marte, at least we know how he plays in the mlb if not take a flier on this guy
Mets have had guys like this. Glove first. Bat never. You want another one?
It seems the Asian players come to the MLB with a different attitude than the Latin players. Maybe it’s a cultural thing but I like the Japanese players respectfulness and eagerness to prove themselves….and honestly, very dissappointed with so many Latin players testing positive for PED’s both before and after they arrive at the MLB level.
Latin players like Tyler Skaggs
Tyler Skaggs probably accomplished more in his short life than anyone that makes some kind of erroneous, classless comment like you’ve done. Have a little faith in life homie because nobody can be perfect. Move forward 🙂
Ok dude, I’ll take the bait… 1) the number of players from each group varies so greatly you can’t even compare 2) the Japanese players coming over are already established professional athletes not 16-18 year olds, hence will demonstrate a different level of professionalism
Interesting some of the comments about Japanese players being overrated and other weird stuff, He will find a team that will need him to be primary center fielder or a lesser role. Money will play into this more than anything…and Japanese players are not being treated differently than any other player. No one is going to win the World Series based on this player. He will be a complimentary piece to a bigger puzzle..
The Padres will definitely be in on this guy.
They need a LH outfielder and an upgrade in CF.
So they will do their due diligence here.
Seems like a 5th outfielder…