Outfielder Shogo Akiyama and relief pitcher Ian Krol have each triggered opt-out clauses in their minor league contracts with the Padres, reports Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune (on Twitter). The players’ respective transactions logs at MLB.com indicate both have been released, suggesting the Friars declined to add either to their MLB roster.
Akiyama signed a surprising three-year, $21MM free agent deal with the Reds over the 2019-20 offseason. That came on the heels of a nine-year run with the Seibu Lions of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball, during which he hit .301/.376/.454 in just over 1200 games. The left-handed hitter tallied 183 plate appearances in each of his first two seasons in Cincinnati, but he didn’t hit the ball with much authority. Akiyama managed only 15 extra-base hits (14 doubles and a triple) and posted an overall .224/.320/.274 batting line.
The Reds released the 34-year-old in April after he’d been squeezed off the Opening Day roster. A few weeks later, Akiyama signed with San Diego. He wound up appearing in 16 games for their top affiliate in El Paso, hitting .343/.378/.529 with a trio of home runs in a hitter-friendly setting. However, Akiyama hasn’t played in two weeks — Sanders notes he’s been on the COVID-19 injured list — and he’ll now head back to the open market in search of a new opportunity.
Akiyama’s solid showing with the Chihuahuas seems likely to get him other minor league offers if he desires. Given his established, productive track record in Japan, he’d no doubt have NPB interest as well. Shortly after the Reds released him in April, reports out of Japan indicated the Lions were making an effort to bring Akiyama back.
Krol has appeared in parts of seven MLB seasons. He suited up at the highest level each year from 2013-18, then returned with 18 2/3 innings of 4.34 ERA ball for the Tigers last season. Krol had an excellent showing in the upper levels of the Detroit farm system, but this year’s stint in El Paso has not gone well.
Through 25 1/3 frames, the southpaw has a 7.46 ERA. He’s punched out a quality 27% of opponents, but he’s also walked batters at a 13.9% clip and given up six longballs. The 31-year-old heads back to the open market, although it’s possible that’ll be a brief stint. Sanders suggests Krol could pursue an opportunity in a foreign league.