Reports indicate that Japanese outfielder Shogo Akiyama and the San Diego Padres could soon reach an agreement on a free-agent deal.
The San Diego Padres are interested in Japanese outfielder Shogo Akiyama in their quest to improve the outfield for the 2020 season and beyond.
According to a Japanese news source, the Padres have emerged in the race to sign the 31-year-old veteran free agent. A.J. Preller and his staff are known to have a deep interest in Akiyama as the two sides have been connected for a few months. This is hardly more than speculation.
The left-handed hitter from Japan played the last nine years for the Saitama Seibu Lions, recording over 1,400 hits and a .829 OPS. He is widely regarded as a star in the league.
Akiyama is an unrestricted free agent and may sign with whomever he wishes this winter. Some indications are that he has a 2.5 billion yen (approximately $23 million) offer on the table to return to the NPB and end his career with the Seibu Lions. That will be difficult to turn down, especially as he is expected to earn a portion of that playing in the States.
Last week, the Tampa Bay Rays signed Yoshitomo Tsutsugo to a relatively surprising two-year, $12 million (plus a $2.4 million release fee) deal. The slugging outfielder is comparable to Akiyama as far as player worth, though most agree Akiyama is the better bet to transition his stardom to Major League pitching. The Padres have some money to spend, but most speculate that they are reaching their spending limit for the 2020 season.
In 2015, Akimaya broke out in the NPB as he set a new record by recording 216 hits in a season. He ended that season with a .941 OPS, playing in every game for the Lions. Akiyama has not missed a game for the past five seasons and is considered very durable. The Padres will factor in Akiyama’s ability to play every day when calculating his value.
The swing on Shogo Akiyama is fluid, though unorthodox. He has decent power and will drive the ball the other way effectively. The forte for the Japanse outfielder is his knack for getting on base. He owns a .376 on-base percentage in 4,600 at-bats in the JPPL. There is patience with his approach at the plate, and he will make a pitcher work. The thought is that he should have success in the majors and be a serviceable player in the league.
Speed is not a huge asset for the outfielder when it comes to stealing bases. He has stolen 112 in his Japanese baseball career but has also been cut down on the basepaths 65 times. He plays centerfield, where he is considered an above-average fielder. The arm-strength is on the average side. The right-handed thrower gets behind his throws well and utilizes angles very well. Glovework should not be an issue for this outfielder.
It remains to be seen if the Padres are serious about signing Akiyama. The team has several outfielders presently on the 40-man roster. The Japanese outfielder does provide skills the Padres’ covet, so there could be something to these reports out of Japan. The outfielder is supposed to reach a decision very soon, and some even speculate he will do so before the New Year.