Sure, sure, *now* you say you want to come after Shogo Akiyama …
Name to keep an eye on with #STLCards LH-hitting outfielder search: Shogo Akuyama, a Japanese free agent with no posting fee attached. They have scouted him extensively.
— Mark Saxon (@markasaxon) December 12, 2019
It’s worth noting that, per published reports, the Cardinals were not among the four teams that actually met with Akiyama this week at the Winter Meetings (Cubs, Reds, Diamondbacks, Rays).
So the question is, do we buy that the Cardinals are actually in on Akiyama right now, or is this just a convenient message out into the world about a guy two of your division rivals are trying to sign? It would be good timing for the Cardinals to slide into Akiyama’s DMs, since the latest from the Cubs’ camp is that Akiyama’s seemingly reasonable two-year, $10 million contract expectation might be out of their “comfort zone.” That kinda felt like a negotiating tactic from the Cubs, and so maybe the Cardinals want to push a little something out there to call BS on the Cubs?
Then again, maybe the Cardinals simply see a good fit. Although the Cardinals do have plenty of useful outfielders, it’s not as though they couldn’t incorporate another guy into the mix, especially after losing Marcell Ozuna to free agency. Further, although Harrison Bader continued to play excellent defense in center field last year, his bat fell off a cliff. Getting a guy like Akiyama for cheap, and letting him start four times a week all over the outfield depending on match-ups could help improve the performance of other not-quite-everyday-starter types out there.
Heck, maybe the Cardinals were on the fringes of interest, having scouted Akiyama quite a bit, but not believing he was worth 3+ years at $5+ million per year. But then word came out that maybe he’d be getting only two years at that rate or lower, and suddenly their interest was piqued. It sure would suck to see him wind up with the Cardinals (or Reds) on what looks like a reasonable deal, only to see him turn into a very solid defense center fielder in the big leagues, with an OBP in the .350+ range.
Bah, now I’m doing the Cardinals work for them …