Star NPB outfielder Seiya Suzuki waited out the lockout in search of a deal with an MLB team this offseason. The league and Players Association agreed to freeze his posting window during the work stoppage. The official lifting of the lockout restarted the clock, giving teams twenty days to finalize an agreement.
Suzuki has reportedly drawn interest from upwards of a dozen teams this winter, and Jon Heyman of the MLB Network lists five (via Twitter) that have been prominent players: the Mariners, Giants, Dodgers, Cubs and Red Sox. That’s not necessarily a group of finalists, to be clear, but it seems those teams are among Suzuki’s top suitors.
Four of those clubs — Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago and Boston — have been known entrants in the bidding for some time. A report from Japan’s Nikkan Sports in January named the four clubs as among those likely to remain factors until he chooses a destination. The Dodgers, though, hadn’t been strongly linked to Suzuki until this point.
Los Angeles doesn’t necessarily have a need in the outfield. Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger and AJ Pollock make for a strong starting trio, and Chris Taylor and Gavin Lux could see some action on the grass as well. The Dodgers haven’t been shy about acquiring talent even in the absence of an obvious weakness on the roster, however. And Los Angeles is clearly open to further bolstering an already strong offense, as they’re reportedly making a run at Freddie Freeman. Manager Dave Roberts isn’t afraid to move even his best players around the diamond, and the implementation of the universal designated hitter could allow NL teams to cast a wider net in search of talent.
With a little under three weeks before Suzuki has to make a decision, there still seems to be a decent array of possible landing spots. Only 27 years old, Suzuki should appeal both to win-now clubs like the Dodgers and teams (the Cubs perhaps among them) that are eyeing 2023 and beyond as more realistic windows of contention. He’s coming off a monstrous .317/.433/.639 showing with the Hiroshima Carp, for whom he’s been a strong middle-of-the-order bat in recent years. Evaluators with whom MLBTR spoke earlier in the offseason generally suggested Suzuki could immediately be a solid everyday right fielder in MLB.
Whoever signs Suzuki will owe the Carp a posting fee on top of the guarantee that goes to the player himself. The fee is calculated as 20% of the contract’s first $25MM, 17.5% of the next $25MM and 15% of any dollars thereafter.