Shogo Akiyama is a gold glove-winning center fielder for the Saitama Seibu Lions of Nippon Professional Baseball. In Japan in 2019, the left-handed hitting Akiyama hit .303/.394/.471 with 20 home runs and 12 steals. He’s been described as having “quick hands and good bat speed” with “above-average power.” Another report lists him among the leaders in NPB “hard contact percentage” numbers, although he tends to hit more grounders than one might like. As you can see from those numbers, he can take a walk, although he does strike out a fair amount as well. Akiyama could possibly be the answer to two of the Cubs problems: center field and lead-off hitter.
Last month, I posted this article indicating that the Cubs actually did have interest in Akiyama, who, as Josh noted, could slide right in as the Cubs’ center fielder and leadoff hitter.
Today, that Cubs interest in Akiyama appears to have grown:
Cubs and two other clubs have met with Japanese center fielder Shogo Akiyama according to industry source . He has attributes that have been missing on offense and defense . Career .376 OBP— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) December 11, 2019
I’m all in favor of this. Akiyama would probably not cost that much. He’s 32 years old and Josh suggested a three-year, $24 million deal would probably be enough to entice Akiyama to come over from NPB. He is an unrestricted free agent and no posting fee would be due to his Japanese team. The Cubs should be able to afford a deal like that.
This wouldn’t be a “major” move, but as noted above, it would solve a couple of problems the Cubs have had in recent years. They could still keep Albert Almora Jr. around as a fifth outfielder, and Ian Happ could slide around to various positions, perhaps becoming the new Ben Zobrist.
A link to Akiyama’s numbers in NPB is above, in the portion of Josh’s article that I quoted. Here is a great catch he made in a Japan/Korea game in 2015:
And here is an RBI triple Akiyama hit [VIDEO] in the Japan/MLB exhibition series in November 2018.
As always... wait for it... we await developments.
Should the Cubs sign Shogo Akiyama?
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