Here is a look at Japanese outfielder Shogo Akiyama who the San Diego Padres may have interest in signing.
A few reports are coming out of Japan, that the San Diego Padres are taking a look at outfielder Shogo Akiyama as the team weighs their options for the 2020 season. At the very least, the Padres have considered their options on the Japanese born player.
The 31-year-old left-handed hitting centerfielder is an international free agent and may sign with anyone he chooses. Unlike younger players who come out of Japan and require a posting system to be registered in Major League Baseball, Akiyama is a free agent. This fact will make him attractive to potential suitors.
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. He will have a hard time eclipsing that type of deal from a Major League team, at least as far as the five years of guaranteed money. Returning to Japan is still in the cards, though he has shown a great desire to play in the Major Leagues.
The Padres, Cubs, Diamondbacks, and Mariners have all shown an early interest in the talented outfielder.
Akiyama is described as one of the best players in the Nippon Professional Baseball league. He has a career .301/.376/.454 batting line and a .829 OPS in nine years and over 4,600 at-bats. Last year he put up a .864 OPS and a, 303/.392/.411 slash line, hitting 20 homers for the Lions. He has slugged 69 homers in the last three years as his power numbers have increased with his age.
The international free agent is described as a professional hitter. He will battle at the plate, and that should transition to the Major League level. In 2015, Akimaya broke out in the NPB as he set a new record by recording 216 hits in a season. Since then, he has been widely considered a star in the league. His swing is a traditional stroke from Japan, with a lot of moving parts. Akiyama has shown that he will slash the ball the other way, and that is valuable.
Defensively, he has the speed and arm strength to play center field. The right-handed thrower will not be spectacular on the field but does have a plus arm with good carry. His age will be a factor here again, but if the outfielder is required to move to a corner outfield position, he will not be a liability on the field. The defense is not the concern with him. It does come down to the bat and whether or not he can continually hit high-velocity pitching.
Since the 2013 season, the outfielder has missed a total of 13 games. He is durable and will have no issues with his strength and stamina, even if he is on the downside of his professional baseball career.
Take a look at some highlights of Akiyama in the NPB.
Akimaya is no given to have success with the bat, especially since he will be 32 years old when Opening Day 2020 comes around. He is an intriguing option for the Padres and could be a decent option to partner with Manuel Margot to start the 2020 season for the Padres. The money will be a factor as the Padres have pressing needs in other areas and cannot afford to risk spending on a player with so many uncertainties. That does not mean they will not be serious players. Keep an eye on this situation in the coming weeks and months.