Earlier this month, word came out of Japan that star centerfielder Shogo Akiyama, a free agent this offseason, was looking to come to MLB.
I took a look at Akiyama as a possible fit for the Cubs, and, although the transition from NPB to MLB, plus his age (31) as a speed guy, do present obvious risks, there were a number of reasons to see him as a perfect fit for the Cubs. A roll of the dice? Sure. But a really well-fitting one.
Well, soon after that post – and missed by me until a recent curation at MLBTR called out a similar report – Nikkan Sports wrote up Akiyama’s future, which included specific mention of four teams that scouted Akiyama this season: the Mariners, the Padres, the Diamondbacks, and … yup, the Cubs.
It would make plenty of sense for the Cubs, with an obvious hole in the outfield and at the top of the lineup, to be scouting a potential free agent like Akiyama. He could be a high-contact, high-OBP, good-defense, good-baserunning addition to a team that needs a boost in all of those areas. I’m very glad to hear that he’s been on the Cubs’ radar for a while now.
It’s not a lock that Akiyama will be coming to MLB this offseason, as it sounds like his team, the Seibu Lions, are still trying to re-sign him. Reportedly, he has a five-year, $23 million offer in hand, which is particularly lucrative for the NPB. That said, if you could turn his head on a three to four-year, $20-25 million deal, is that really such a huge risk for a guy who might at least wind up a very good fourth outfielder? And who has the possible upside of a very good leadoff hitter?
Much more on Akiyama, and the fit with the Cubs, here if you missed it:
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) October 9, 2019