It’s been a while since we’ve heard much of anything on free agent outfielder Shogo Akiyama, who is looking to make the leap from NBP to MLB, and who could command a multi-year deal. The Cubs have been in on Akiyama for a while, per reports, and he remains a pretty ideal fit in center field for a team looking for more contact at the top of the order (and with an obviously open spot in center field).
Why the silence lately? Well, I expect it is partly just a matter of Akiyama’s place in the market – he isn’t among the top tier free agents – so a little bit of slow play is to be expected. But I also anticipate it is partly because the Cubs are such obvious suitors, and since they are heavily involved in trade talks that could fundamentally change their approach, their roster, and their finances, they might want to hold Akiyama off as long as possible.
But will that be possible now that Akiyama is in the U.S. at these very Winter Meetings to talk with his agent:
Shogo Akiyama and Yoshitomo Tsutsugo are reportedly nearby as talks between their agents and MLB teams progress at the winter meetings in San Diego. I also spoke with new Kia Tigers manager Matt Williams.https://t.co/wneljWGrfU
— Jim Allen (@JballAllen) December 9, 2019
It’s a good bet that Akiyama will meet with some suitors this week to get an in-person perspective, and that very well may include the Cubs. If so, how aggressively will they pursue a contract while the rest of the offseason is still up in the air?
… well, my answer is that they should just go ahead and be aggressive regardless. The Cubs will not find a better fit for their needs – with risk, yes, but with upside – in the free agent market. And if a future trade winds up yielding a younger, more longer-term center fielder? Big whoop. Akiyama can hold down the fort for a bit and then, if necessary, transition into a fourth outfielder role.
Here’s hoping we hear about some Cubs talks with Akiyama this week. More on the speedy outfielder here.