The Red Sox are one of three American League teams with with interest in Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki, according Sean McAdam of Boston Sports Journal.
Per McAdam, “one major-league source reports the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Red Sox have been the most aggressive in pursuit of Suzuki.”
Suzuki had been one of the more coveted free agents in this winter’s market prior to the anticipated work stoppage putting a freeze on transactions beginning December 2.
The 27-year-old was initially posted by the Hiroshima Carp of Nippon Professional Baseball on November 22, which — under normal circumstances — would have given him and his representatives up to 30 days to negotiate a contract with major-league clubs.
Because of the lockout, however, Suzuki’s posting window has been paused for the time being. Once the work stoppage eventually comes to a close, he would then have roughly 20 or so days to continue negotiating with MLB teams or otherwise return to Japan.
This past season marked Suzuki’s ninth with Hiroshima, and it was one in which the right-handed hitter batted .317/.433/.639 with 26 doubles, 38 home runs, 88 RBIs, 77 runs scored, nine stolen bases, 88 walks, and 89 strikeouts over 134 games (538 plate appearances) for the Carp.
In the wake of trading Hunter Renfroe to the Brewers for Jackie Bradley Jr. and a pair of prospects, the Red Sox very well find themselves in need of some outfield help, particularly from the right side of the plate.
As noted by McAdam, “Suzuki could play right field for the Sox, replacing Renfroe both defensively and as a productive right-handed bat.”
Not only has Suzuki enjoyed a great deal of offensive success over the course of his nine-year NPB career, but the 5-foot-11, 182 pounder is also a five-time recipient of the Mitsui Golden Glove Award.
By dealing away Renfroe and acquiring Bradley Jr. from Milwaukee, Boston has added another left-handed bat to an outfield mix that already consists of Alex Verdugo and Jarren Duran.
Suzuki, in turn, would provide the Sox with a talented right-handed hitter while simultaneously allowing the club to keep Verdugo in left field and Enrique Hernandez in center field if they so choose.
When speaking with reporters (including MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith) last week, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom addressed this very topic when discussing what Boston still needs to do when this transaction freeze ends.
“I do feel we still have room to add position players to this crew,” Bloom said. “Obviously swapping Hunter for Jackie does change the handedness of our group a little bit. So maybe the dial moves a little more toward a right-handed bat where before it might have been towards a left-handed bat. But there’s different ways it can come together with the versatility and flexibility that we have. So we’re going to keep looking to supplement.”
Regarded by many — including an evaluator McAdam spoke to — as “a difference-maker,” Suzuki is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to receive a five-year deal worth $55 million in free agency.
While signing Suzuki would not cost the Red Sox (or any other team) a draft pick, they would owe Hiroshima compensation in the form of a posting fee. Under the current agreement between Major League Baseball and NPB, this posting fee is 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.
(Picture of Seiya Suzuki: Yuichi Masuda/Getty Images)