Could the Red Sox be interested in signing Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki this winter? According to WEEI’s Rob Bradford, the Sox have “thoroughly” scouted the international star.
Suzuki is expected to be posted by the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of Nippon Professional Baseball at some point this off-season, MLB.com’s Jon Morosi reported last Friday.
Per Morosi, Hiroshima has yet to formally announce that Suzuki will be posted, but the club is slated to do so once the Japan Series — which was pushed back because of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo — concludes later this month.
Assuming that Suzuki is posted by the Carp by the end of November, major-league teams would then have 30 days from the date of posting to negotiate a contract with the 27-year-old, who would not be subject to international signing bonus limitations since he is over the age of 25 and has more than six seasons of professional experience.
This past season with Hiroshima, Suzuki slashed an impressive .319/.436/.644 to go along with 26 doubles, 38 home runs, 88 RBIs, 77 runs scored, nine stolen bases, 88 walks, and 87 strikeouts over 133 games and 535 plate appearances.
When the 2021 NPB season was paused on account of the Olympics, the right-handed hitter helped Samurai Japan win a gold medal in their home country that was capped off by a dramatic 2-0 victory over Team USA on August 7.
In addition to what he has done at the plate, Suzuki is well renowned for his defense, as the five-time NPB All-Star is also a four-time recipient of NPB’s Gold Glove Award for his work as a right fielder.
Listed at 5-foot-11 and 182 pounds, Suzuki does not turn 28 until next August. Morosi notes that he has drawn comparisons to Braves star outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. because of his “patience, power and base-stealing acumen.”
On the flip side of that, FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen analyzed that Suzuki “has plus power that comes from a dip-and-rip style of hitting, where he just sort of collapses his back side and tries to pull the ball with power as often as possible.
“Suzuki is at his best when he’s getting his arms extended on pitches well out over the plate,” Longenhagen continued, “but he tends to foul off or swing under fastballs creeping in on him.”
As far as contract projections go, FanGraphs has Suzuki netting himself anywhere between $40 million to $45.2 million over the span of a four-year deal. MLB Trade Rumors, on the other hand, projects that the Tokyo native will receive a five-year, $55 million contract on the open market.
Any deal Suzuki signs with a major-league team would have to include a posting fee as a way to compensate the Carp. As noted by Morosi, Hiroshima “would receive a release fee equal to 20% of the first $25 million in guaranteed contract value, plus 17.5% of the next $25 million, plus 15% of any amount beyond $50 million” under the current agreement between Major League Baseball and NPB.
It is unclear at this point just how serious the Red Sox are about pursuing Suzuki as a free agent. Boston’s outfield picture for 2022 already appears crowded with Alex Verdugo, Enrique Hernandez, Hunter Renfroe, J.D. Martinez, and Tim Locastro under club control heading into next season.
That said, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has made it a point of emphasis in his tenure with the Red Sox to cast a wide net when it comes to constructing a big-league roster, so Suzuki should at the very least be on Boston’s radar for the time being.
(Picture of Seiya Suzuki: Koji Watanabe/Getty Images)