Potential Japanese import Shogo Akiyama, 31, remains a popular target on the free agent market. Yesterday’s reports affirmed the Reds and Padres atop the list of pursuers. The long-time Seibu Lions centerfielder is said to have 3-year offers on the table, per MLB Network Insider Jon Heyman (via Twitter). The Cubs and Diamondbacks have also consistently been linked to the left-handed hitter, while the Rays and Blue Jays have had reported interest at various times during the offseason.
The 45th-ranked free agent on our Top 50 Free Agents list, Akiyama is one of the only true centerfield options on the open market, and he carries enough bat to find a place near the top of a batting order. His on-base ability in particular is drawing teams to his door, per Heyman. He carries a career .301/.376/.454 line from 9 seasons in the NPB, with OBPs floating right around .400 over the past five seasons.
MLBTR’s Dylan A. Chase asked readers early in the offseason to predict which NPB import would collect the largest guarantee. Akiyama landed firmly between Yoshitomo Tsutsugo and Shun Yamaguchi. We now know Tsutsugo claimed $12MM from the Rays while Yamaguchi got $6.35MM from the Blue Jays. Both deals are for two seasons. So while it’s reasonable to expect Akiyama to come on a fairly reasonable contract, the dearth of centerfield options could drive the bidding beyond either deal’s total guarantee.
Elsewhere among outfielders, the Marlins remain interested in Yasiel Puig. The volatile Cuban outfielder would certainly entertain Floridians, even if the .267/.327/.458 line he put up for the Reds and Indians in 2019 isn’t necessarily awe-inspiring. He did technically produce at an above-average rate with a 101 wRC+.
The Marlins, however, seem to be leaning towards Corey Dickerson at the moment, per FNTSY Sports Radio’s Craig Mish (via Twitter). The Fish have outfield prospects knocking on the door (namely, Monte Harrison and Jesus Sanchez), as well as intriguing talent a little further away (JJ Bleday, Victor Victor Mesa, Kameron Misner) – but they continue to explore adding offensive talent for the near-term.