Padres emerging as favorites to sign Japanese OF Shogo Akiyama?

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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.

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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.

7 thoughts on “Padres emerging as favorites to sign Japanese OF Shogo Akiyama?

  1. frankly, I think this is Preller focusing more on defense. Im not so sure that he believed that Renfroe could be a consistent defender or hitter, for that matter. On the other hand, Im not really impressed with this experiment of acquiring, YET AGAIN, all these OFers. I thought the main focus, was about getting Myer’s money off the books. Or is that looking more and more, like an impossibility, at this point?

  2. And why was Hunter Renfroe traded? So Preller could purge the organization of any player(s) he personally didn’t draft, sign or trade for? It was so ridiculous to get rid of a “gold glove” caliber outfielder who also hits plenty of home runs. If he is healthy this coming season – and why won’t he be – watch what he does with Tampa Bay. But let’s keep adding more outfielders! Soon to come – Austin Hedges, litetally one of the 3 best defensive catchers in MLB will be leaving. Won’t that be the end of all pre-Preller players on the Padres?

  3. I totally agree with Tony C. He has the same trade I’d propose for Marte. Marte is a proven all around player. A better fit.

    1. Marte does play CF, but he is not a good CF (defensively). In fact, he is bad in CF. To acquire him to play CF is foolish. He is above average offensively, and could play a corner outfield spot, but, not only is he older and declining, and only signed for 2 years, he is NOT a center fielder. So perhaps that is why the Padres have not acquired him.

  4. We may have excess outfielders, but that doesn’t mean they are starting caliber OF’s.

    Margot has shown he’s simply no better than a 4th/defensive replacement guy

    Myers we simply can’t wait on anymore and the team seems to be done with him. If they want to get value out of him, put him in a platoon with Hosmer.

    Franchy can’t stay healthy and strikes out too much still. He can be stashed in the minors still until he starts putting those tools together.

    We have 1 legit starting caliber OF – Pham. Grisham we “hope” can be the 2nd, but he’s not a sure thing.

  5. This makes no sense unless the Padres are actually in the process of, or close, to trading another OF. The team just has WAY too many outfielders at this time they have to clear some of them I’d say don’t even bother pursuing an OF.
    Like Tony though I’ve heard reports all over the place about who is in the lead.

  6. I’ve read elsewhere that the Reds are the leaders in this race.

    I think the Padres outfield is too crowded to add another into the mix at this point. Until we subtract, I’m assuming Fowler has AJ’s hands tied behind his back. He does not figure to be a superstar but he will make a nice addition to someone’s lineup.

    I’d rather move Margot, Quantil, and a prospect (30-50) for Sterling Marte if we’re adding someone.

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