One of the most bizarre storylines of the ongoing lockout has been the frozen posting window for Seiya Suzuki. The star NPB outfielder was made available to big league clubs in November via the posting process, but he didn’t agree to a deal with an MLB team before the league implemented the lockout on December 2.
The league and union agreed to freeze the 30-day signing window for the duration of the work stoppage. With the lockout set to reach its three-month anniversary tomorrow, however, questions have intermittently popped up about how long Suzuki himself might want to wait. After all, he could simply choose to return to the Hiroshima Carp for the upcoming season and explore the possibility of making the move to MLB next winter.
Suzuki, though, remains intent on seeing the posting process through. Joel Wolfe, his representative at Wasserman, tells Andrew Baggarly of the Athletic that Suzuki’s thought process was unchanged by the league’s announcement that the first two series of the regular season have been cancelled (Twitter link). “Seiya is 100% committed to playing in MLB this year. He’s shown remarkable patience and resolve,” Wolfe told Baggarly.
That’s not a huge surprise, as Suzuki told Baggarly in mid-January he planned to wait things out. “I’m just going to wait until both sides agree,” Suzuki said at the time. “There’s no date I set on myself. In Japan, you don’t experience a lockout so it’s a first for me. At first, I was a little worried about it. But when you think about it, it’s going to end sometime soon. Just having that positive mindset that it will end sometime has allowed me to keep my head up.”
Still, those comments came before the latest uncertainty regarding the MLB labor situation. In the interim, NPB has begun its preseason schedule and opens its regular season on March 25. MLB, on the other hand, won’t begin playing meaningful games until at least the second week of April. More to the point, the league’s decision to cancel some regular season action only further complicates the labor situation and figures to make the ongoing lockout more difficult to resolve. Waiting things out is no doubt an unenviable situation for Suzuki, but it seems he’s committed to doing so in order to test his ability against big league competition.
Whenever he is allowed to negotiate with teams, the righty-hitting outfielder should have a robust market. At 27, he’s among the youngest players in free agency. Scouting reports generally suggest he could be a capable everyday right fielder at the MLB level. And Suzuki’s coming off an excellent season in NPB, hitting .317/.433/.639 with 38 home runs across 533 plate appearances. The Padres, Cubs, Giants, Mariners, Red Sox and Rangers are among the clubs that have been linked to Suzuki this offseason.