Padres may develop interest in Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki

Credit: AP Photo

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Credit: AP Photo

Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki could be of interest to the San Diego Padres this winter. 

If the Padres clear some payroll, they may use the extra funds to upgrade the outfield position.

There is an interesting name to consider. A player who has not yet been linked to the team, but you can be sure the Padres are well aware of his potential.

Japanese baseball star Seiya Suzuki will be a free agent, and the 27-year-old will be in high demand. The Rays, Mariners, Phillies, Rangers, Jays, and Royals are all linked to the outfielder via a report from Yahoo sports. But it is very early in the process, and the actual frontrunners for his services have yet to surface.

The right-handed hitter brings a patient approach to the plate, where he owns a career .402 OBP in more than 1,000 games in the Japanese League.

The posting process will begin for Suzuki later this month as the Japanese League playoffs are still happening due to the 2020 Tokoyo Olympics that took place this year and put a pause on the league. The Hiroshima Carp have yet to announce their intentions with Suzuki, but the posting process will surely begin later this month.

Teams will need to pay a negotiating fee to the Carp, and the highest bidder will gain the rights to negotiate a deal with the outfielder. Suzuki won’t be subject to international signing bonus limitations because he’s at least 25 years old with six or more seasons of professional experience.

The going rate for the outfield is not known. Shogo Akiyama earned a three-year/$21 million contract from the Reds before the 2020 season. Akiyama was six years older than Suzuki during the free-agent process, and that is something to consider. At this point, it is not out of the realm of imagination for Seiya Suzuki to demand in the neighborhood of $30-45 million for a three or four-year deal. Under the current MLB-NPB transfer agreement, the Carp would receive a release fee equal to 20% of the first $25 million in guaranteed contract value, plus 17.5% of the next $25 million, plus 15% of any amount beyond $50 million.

Credit: NBC7

Signing a player from overseas comes with a huge risk. But let’s take a look at Suzuki and his stats and why the Padres should have some interest.

Seiya Suzuki put up a .319/.436/.640 batting line in 2021 with a 1.075 OPS. In 133 games, he walked 88 times and struck out 87 times showing great bat control along with his prodigious power. The 5-foot-11, 182 lb outfielder slugged 38 homers last year, which are career-high. The bat is improving, and his home runs are not cheap fence-scrappers either.

In 1,054 career games, the outfielder owns a .309/.402/.542 batting line with 189 homers and a .943 OPS. There is some speed to his game as well, as Suzuki owns 102 career steals. In addition, his base-running is considered a plus tool as Suzuki shows an ability to get great jumps on the basepaths.

Here is a video of the power and the flair he displays on the field. The is no doubt he would fit amongst the Padres and their preference to have fun while playing the game.

There is no doubt Suzuki will be an offensive weapon in the majors. The numbers will decrease at the major league level as he faces the best pitchers in the world. That is to be expected, but the right-handed hitter should have no problems hitting at least 20 homers in a season if given ample at-bats. Suzuki should also continue to show a plus eye at the plate and earn walks.

The outfielder could also be a plus defender, and there are whispers that he is capable of playing some centerfield if needed. Suzuki is a 4-time Gold Glove-Award winner where he displays a plus arm and decent foot speed. Here is a video of the arm in action.

The Padres will need to move salary for any of this to take place.

There is little room for the Padres to add players at approximately $180 million invested into next season’s payroll. A.J. Preller will undoubtedly take a close look at Suzuki as he fits the mold of what the Padres are looking for presently. He is athletic and hungry to prove his worth at the major league level.

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Next month’s potential work stoppage is troubling and could complicate this signing and push Suzuki back to Japan. Only time will tell in that matter.

If everything works out and it is business as usual, Suzuki will be a hot commodity among several major league teams. The Padres are not showing much interest yet publically, but that does not mean they aren’t creeping in the weeds. Stay tuned.

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