The Reds have told Shogo Akiyama that he will not make the Opening Day roster, Reds GM Nick Krall told The Athletic’s C. Trent Rosecrans and other reporters. The team has also told minor league signings Trey Wingenter and Andrew Knapp that they won’t be breaking camp.
Akiyama’s three-year, $21MM contract gives him the right to decline a minor league assignment, and he already turned down a visit to Triple-A near the end of the 2021 season (he did see some minors action last year as part of a rehab assignment). If Akiyama does indeed decline to go to Triple-A again, the Reds seem set to designate him for assignment, and in all likelihood eat the $8MM owed to the outfielder for the 2021 season.
After nine seasons as a standout performance for the Saitama Seibu Lions of Nippon Professional Baseball, Akiyama came to Major League Baseball and hit only .224/.320/.274 over 366 plate appearances in a Cincinnati uniform. His first season had some flashes of promise, as Akiyama was a finalist for NL Gold Glove Award in left field and he posted a .357 OBP in 183 plate appearances. However, he started off the 2021 season with a month-long stint on the IL with a hamstring problem and simply never got on track, playing in 88 games and amassing 183 PA as a part-time player.
Akiyama was blunt about his performance when speaking with Rosecrans and other reporters through a translator, saying “with two years, that’s the results that are out there” and “it’s just unfortunate how I don’t have that many memorable moments.” Of course, Akiyama did come to the majors just before the pandemic altered the world, but he only alluded to those unusual circumstances by saying that “I don’t know what the actual true self with me is….But realistically, I still can play. I can play hard. I know I can play. So I just have to move forward with this situation.”
The contract ended up being an expensive misfire for the Reds, which stands out even more given how the team has been paring back its payroll for much of the last two offseasons, particularly this winter. There doesn’t seem like any chance that another team would claim Akiyama on DFA waivers and thus absorb his entire $8MM salary, so if a team is interested, it can wait out the waiver period and then sign Akiyama to only a minimum salary, with the Reds covering the rest of the $8MM owed.
Even considering Akiyama’s lack of Major League production, it seems possible that another team might take a flier on him for such a limited cost. The Padres, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Rays, Blue Jays, and Cardinals all had some level of interest in Akiyama when he came over from NPB, so at least one of those former suitors might take a look to see if Akiyama (who turns 34 this month) can break out in a new environment.
Wingenter and Knapp both signed minor league deals just barely before the lockout was implemented. Wingenter has only pitched two innings this spring due to an elbow injury, and the righty has already told the Reds that he won’t be exercising his opt-out. Knapp has until Monday to decide whether or not to use his own opt-out, after Aramis Garcia won the competition to be Cincinnati’s backup catcher.
Knapp should opt out. He might be able to get a big league opportunity right away. If not, he can just go to AAA somewhere else.
better hitter than Pirates backup
If you even cared to look this up the only thing Knapp was ‘better’ at was his paltry average. The dude was worth -1.5 bWAR and had an OPS+ of 17…. 17!! He’s done and rightly so.
Shogo never got a chance.
He got 366 chances.
That’s really not enough at bats for baseball. Especially someone brand new to everything having come over from overseas
He got too many chances
For some reason, Shogo was never able to adjust to MLB pitching. Perhaps it was the pandemic, the injuries or a combination thereof, but I guess the scouts who oversaw him before signing must have done their job.
A tree falling on his wife last spring didn’t help things either
You Can Put It In The Books
Sounds like a case for Forensic Files.
Yeah. I remember that. Scary thing. Equally as bizarre. I imagine it is one helluva story to tell at a party.
I saw Ty Winnington for a sec and remembered a guy.
Does Ty Winnington know Ty Wigginton?
Various projection systems on Akiyama’s FG page place him between .646 and .704 OPS – which, while not very good, would seem to be useful as a defense/OBP platoon on the cheap, as well as a huge improvement on what he has done in the US so far. I’m guessing his overseas numbers still have some weight, and since he underperformed his expected ratios last year, that’s buoying him somewhat. On the other hand, he’s come to the plate nearly 400 times and barreled two balls.
Shogo a no-go for Reds logo
Big move by Reds to eat $8MM in salary to open up a roster spot. Just another instance of Reds new strategy.
You’re drinking the Kool-Aid … the reds off season has been terrible. Reds will be bottoms 3 team in baseball this year. Out of it in 60 days max
Sarcasm is a really difficult thing to learn at an older age. I suggest you really start working on it now…maybe you’ll have a chance then.
Not the first and won’t be the last Far East player that didn’t do well in MLB.
That’s how it will always be, especially with the way mlb teams play right now. Keeps it fun
Shogo was a horrible signing from the beginning. Overpayed for a position they didn’t need, just like Moustakas.
The contract turned out to be a bust, undoubtedly. However, I disagree with the assertion that the Reds signed a player to fill a role that did not need to be filled. When the Reds signed him, they needed a solid outfield glove who could get on base often. The lack of a lead off hitter had been an Achilles Heel for years. The lack of a bonafide center fielder had been a weakness for years. They thought Akiyama could get on base often. It turns out that he couldn’t do it. They had a need and he couldn’t fill it. That’s a bad contract, but the goal the team had when they signed him was legitimate.
The outfield was already full, yes it lacked a CF with Senzel constantly on the DL or a plus dedender, but they could have gotten someone else to fill that role for less money. They already had Votto and Winker with good OBP, so someone getting on base is not the problem.
The team needed a SS, but they signed two outfielders for one open position and a 3B to play 2B when they already had Suarez and India, when they had already moved Senzel from 3B to OF.
They also should have learned their lesson on light hitting defensive players from Hamilton and Perezza. Instead they repeat the mistake of their obsession with this idea of a fast guy with no power who is going to make contact and magically get on base. Then instead of signing what they need, put a 3B at 2B, SS, and 3B and overpay for everything in the process.
Hamilton had an OBP of .298 as a Red and CF defense is critical to a team.
Shogo carried an OBP of .376 with a slugging percentage over 100 points higher than Hamilton’s.
For only $8 million per year, that’s a justifiable upgrade. Same elite defense but a leadoff guy for Votto to knock in.
The infield signings were a mess, though. I never understood that. I’m still kind of surprised Moose wasn’t the Angels third baseman. We desperately needed one.
The outfield was already full?
When they signed Akiyama, they had a returning Winker that had given them 113 games in 2019 and Senzel who had given them 104 games.
Winker’s ’19 line was .269/.357/473.
Senzel’s ’19 line was .256/.315/427.
And yes they had the likes of Josh VanMeter, Philip Ervin, and Scott Schebler. The OF was full of JAGS and two guys who had never been able to stay healthy (Winker & Senzel).
They didn’t “already have” India, unless you consider a line in A+/AA of
.259/.365/.402 to be a lock for an MLB spot 2 years later.
It continues to amuse me how players from the Japanese league are considered on-par with MLB. How many times does this have to happen?
Not sure I’ve ever seen anyone say this. There are some guys who are Ichiro, Tanaka, Daiske, Matsui, Nomo, Ohtani. These guys were toward higher echelon. There’s a reason why washed up mlb players go there and the best in Japan come here.
Not everyone works out. But once you conquer a league why not try to conquer a better league and get paid. He got paid and didn’t conquer he will go back to Japan, and slide in with a team immediately.
As long as there are occasional players like Ohtahni, Ichiro, and Matsui coming over; it will continue to happen.
The failures aren’t any worse than the Heyward, Hosmer, Davis contracts. Not every contract works. Doesn’t matter where you come from..
Nobody thinks that NPB is on par with MLB.
I disagree. The common expectation is that stats from Japan translate into the equivalent stats in MLB. That’s rare. Irabu, Igawa, Fukudome, Dice K, Nishioka, Kaz Matsui, etc – it was assumed their success in Japan would carry-over in MLB. The rare Ichiro & Ohtani types serve only to highlight my point as exceptions to the norm. It’s hype. Talented players in NPB, but MLB is clearly superior and the numbers say-so. Far more bust than boom.
Using Shogo as example.. in his last 3 years in NPB he hit 20 HR a year and had a combined OPS over .900 as a CF with range.. he got 3 years $21 million. If an MLB player were a FA and had put up those same numbers, he would probably be getting $20 million a year.
Exactly my point. That .900 OPS in Japan is not a .900 OPS in MLB. The Reds paid MLB prices for a lesser player. There’s a statistical exchange rate on Japanese players the Reds, like many MLB teams, do not consider.
I don’t think that’s true at all. I’ve consistently heard from the analytically-minded people (FanGraphs, Baseball Prospectus, some baseball execs) that NPB equates to a very good AA league or AAA league. I have not heard anyone in years say that NPB stats translate one-for-one with MLB stats.
I think you missed the point.. if a player put up similar numbers in the MLB, they’d be getting $20 million a year in FA. Shogo got $7 million a year. The price differential was steep and obvious in this example.
Clearly the deal was a bust, I’m not arguing that. While foreign players do get “good” money, it is just a fraction of MLB free agents.
Exactly. NPB is considered a good AA league, perhaps AAA.
So a guy with a .900 OPS there can be reasonably expected to carry a .750-.800 in the big leagues.
Shogo got paid like a guy expected to put up a .750-.800.
Nobody thinks NPB = MLB. But usually the players who do come over here, who are the best NPB has to offer, perform pretty much in line with reasonable expectations.
Japan is much better than triple A but miles away from MLB level
It’s also ‘amusing’ how some ex MLB players go to Japan and the KBO and can’t cut it and get cut.
Fred – you mean the low end players that flunk-out of MLB and head overseas? That’s your bar? Right on. Reds are paying this guy millions to play in AAA.
NPB is AAAA ball.
Can see a team giving Akiyama a minimum wage MLB contract. Won’t be expensive and can help out as a reserve. If he doesn’t hit he would be easy to move on from. So a no lose situation for sure.
He definitely fields well. I don’t know if he can hit enough to be a fourth outfielder, though. Somebody will give him a shot, though.
Fortunate for Akiyama there are teams out there who still need a CF. After the waiver period he shouldn’t have any problem catching on, but he’s still gotta hit at some point.
This is a great opportunity for thr Cubs to not only hope he can improve, but also add a fellow countryman for their newest acquisition from Japan.
Do you work for the EEOC?
Get Off My Mound
Do you work for the YAJC?
Knapp is a good backup catcher. He will catch on somewhere.
I hope a team chooses to take a chance on him as a defensive role player. I do not believe he will be the .900 OPS superstar he was in Japan, but I cannot help but feel the hamstring injury severely blunted his stats last year. I’d love for my Cubs to take advantage of another Reds claim, but Chicago’s outfield is already saturated with reclamation/wait-and-see types.
It just feels like one more example of the Red’s FO trying to look smart, rather than dealing with their own internal roster. They’re just all over the place right now.
We should take a poll when Nick Krall will make a good trade.
He’s made several. but how about parting ways with Boddy & then extending Derek Johnson & naming him Director of Pitching? Works for me.
With rosters at 28 and Shogo owed a decent chunk by Reds standards, why not give him 40-50 ABs this April to see if last year was due to injury or not? Maybe another team has an OF go down and needs one.
I understand the move in general, but not the timing.
Shogo will be picked up somewhere and show what he could do when he got the chance. I’m amazed that baseball fans really have a firm opinion on someone after 317 at bats over 2 seasons. Aquino was Player of the Month after his first 200 at bats so, based on that logic, he should be a Hall of Famer at this point right?
Aquino isn’t an everyday player, but they have control of him at league minimum. With no chance to compete this year it makes sense to let go of Shogo over Aquino. Aquino most likely would not be a huge loss either, but with the Reds track record he might go somewhere else and hit like he did the first month in the league.