Tag Archives: winter meetings

Free agent center fielder Akiyama could have deal this year: Report

Japan’s Nikkan Sports reported Friday the Cincinnati Reds have put a multiyear offer on the table for free agent outfielder Shogo Akiyama, and are the top candidate to sign the 31-year-old, citing multiple major league sources.

The Reds, Arizona Diamondbacks, Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago Cubs have all been tied to the center fielder and leadoff hitter for the two-time defending champions of Japan’s Pacific League. Those teams met with Akiyama at December’s baseball winter meetings in San Diego.

My profile of Akiyama is HERE.

The report says the Rays and Cubs showed the most interest early on. Akiyama broke Japan’s single-season hit records set in 2010 by Matt Murton, who is currently working in the Cubs’ front office.

The Nikkan Sports story, however, said Cincinnati has since upped the ante and a deal with the club could be concluded before the end of the year. If Akiyama moves to the Reds, he will be the storied club’s first Japanese import.

Unlike compatriots Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, Shun Yamaguchi and Ryosuke Kikuchi, Akiyama is a free agent and is not bound by a signing deadline. He is represented by agent Casey Close. On Friday, Kikuchi announced he would return to the Hiroshima Carp for 2020.

Other reports, including this one from the Hochi Shimbun, indicate the San Diego Padres have recently entered the bidding for Akiyama.

Tsutsugo, who was also a fixture on Japan’s national team, has concluded a two-year deal with the Rays, while pitcher Yamaguchi has reportedly agreed to a two-year contract with the Toronto Blue Jays. Kikuchi, a record-setting glove wizard, has roughly a week to sign before his rights revert to the Hiroshima Carp of Japan’s Central League. Yamaguchi, too, has a Jan. 2 deadline to complete his deal.

Akiyama highlights published this year by Pacific League TV.

Although a good comparison to former big league outfielder Norichika Aoki, Akiyama will strike out a little more — everyone does — but drive the ball better to the opposite field.

Akiyama, Tsutsugo talk warming up

Sports Nippon has reported that outfielder Shogo Akiyama is now in the United States to meet with his agent as major league teams hunker down in San Diego for the baseball winter meetings.

Outfielder Yoshitomo Tsutsugo is also nearby according to a Sankei Sports report, working out in Los Angeles. He will need to sign a contract this week or return to the DeNA BayStars for 2020.

Williams excited about Korean chance

Nothing to do with Japanese baseball, but happy to meet former Nationals manager Matt Williams and ask him about his upcoming gig as manager of KBO’s Kia Tigers.

Asked about the reason for going, Williams put it down to the rapport he had the club’s executives from the get-go when he was surprised to learn he had competed against one of them as a member of the U.S. national university team in a tour of South Korea.

“The organization has told me they want to learn, they want to progress, they want to do different things, and I want to help them do that,” Williams said. “I’m so excited because it’s a chance to do something different. You can go through life and be a coach or whatever and never get to do something like this. So I jumped at the chance.”