Jan. 29: The Fighters announced that they’ve signed Reyes.
Jan. 7: Franmil Reyes is on the verge of officially signing with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters of Nippon Professional Baseball, according to multiple reports out of the Dominican Republic.
Reyes hit .260/.325/.503 with 92 home runs with San Diego and Cleveland over 1540 plate appearances during the 2018-21 seasons. Despite a lot of strikeouts in that span, Reyes looked like one of baseball’s up-and-coming sluggers before his performance took a sudden downturn. Reyes has hit only .217/.268/.356 with 16 homers in 538 PA since the start of the 2022 season, while striking out over a third of the time.
Though the Guardians were in sore need of power during the 2022 season, Reyes’ struggles were so pronounced that Cleveland designated him for assignment that August, and he was quickly claimed by the Cubs off waivers but didn’t experience much of a bounce-back on his new team. Reyes has subsequently signed minor league contracts with the Royals and Nationals within the last year, but his contribution to the 2023 Major League season consisted of just 19 games with Kansas City. His last minor league came on July 8 with the Nationals’ Triple-A affiliate, and Washington released Reyes in August.
Rather than deal with the uncertainty of another minor league contract, Reyes will instead head to Japan on a guaranteed contract and in search of a fresh start to his career. Reyes is still only 28, so there’s lots of time to potentially seek out a return to MLB if he gets on track with the Fighters, whether next winter or perhaps multiple years down the line.