As several contenders are still looking for some instant offense, the name ‘Seiya Suzuki’ has been mentioned in more than a few MLB front offices. He was a hot one prior to the lockout, he is still being mentioned during the halt, and he will go back to being a hot commodity once teams can sign players again.
What’s so special about Suzuki, then? Well, he may very well be one of the best Japanese players to be posted. He is at a perfect age (27), he has the track record, and while he is best suited in one of the outfield corners, he can play several positions, too.
In a nine-year career in Japan, Suzuki has hit .309/.402/.541 with a .943 OPS. He has plenty of pop (189 homers) and some speed, too, even if he is not the most efficient basestealer (102 stolen bases, 66 caught stealing).
Some scouting on Seiya Suzuki:— Doug Rush (@TheDougRush) December 6, 2021
Most of his power is to LF/CF.
Sits back to wait on breaking pitches. Drives fastballs.
Hands move quick, fluid through the zone.
Walks: Drew 88 last year. .433 OBP.
Career high 38 HR. Normally averages 26-30.
Has Fenway Park written all over him. pic.twitter.com/ZY6l7Cm77Q
The 2021 season was huge for him, as he slashed .317/.433/.636 with 26 doubles, 38 home runs, and a 1.069 OPS in 134 games and 538 plate appearances with the Hiroshima Carp. He also accumulated nine thefts.
Per Sean McAdam of the Boston Sports Journal, the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, and Toronto Blue Jays have been the most aggressive teams in his pursuit. The Seattle Mariners, the New York Mets, and the Texas Rangers also have varying degrees of interest in him.
Per McAdam, the Red Sox were comfortable dealing right fielder Hunter Renfroe right before the lockout because they were confident in their chances of signing Suzuki to replace him. In fact, Ryan Brasier, who played in Japan in 2017 and knows Suzuki, had nothing but praise for him and even compared him to Renfroe.
“When I saw they were in talks involving Seiya, I was like, ‘Oh man!’ He’s a good, good player,” Brasier told Boston media. “I would have zero problems with him being with Red Sox, I will tell you that.” He added he is a stud and that he was “by far our best hitter” when the two were teammates in the Hiroshima Carp.
The Renfroe comparison is useful coming from someone who has spent ample time with both on the same team. “Honestly, he kind of reminds me of Renfroe,” said Brasier. “He might be a little faster, and he might have a little better plate presence. But as far as a player with size and power and defense, he reminds me of Renfroe a little bit.”
It doesn’t take a keen stats expert to see that Suzuki has some fantastic plate discipline. He worked 524 walks in his Japanese career to this point, and struck out 631 times.
He was officially posted on November 22, but since there is a lockout in place, his one-month window was stopped and will resume when a new CBA is reached. There is not much information about what kind of contract he will command, but something in the neighborhood of $10 million per season seems likely because of the high demand for his services.
After the Renfroe trade, Boston seems like the team with the most pressing need for Suzuki. But the Yankees need to make a splash, and the Mariners badly need offensive reinforcements. If the Mets are in, it’s hard to see them being outbid. Stay tuned, because the Suzuki sweepstakes should be fun.
Andrés Chávez loves the game of baseball and writes about it at Beyond the Box Score, Pinstripe Alley, and other sites. He is on Twitter as @andres_chavez13