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NPB Outfielder Seiya Suzuki


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A current NPB star, and just turned 27-year-old right fielder Seiya Suzuki is about to be posted. With Avi Garcia becoming a free agent the Brewers could certainly be one of the teams interested.

 

From MLB Trade Rumors: Hiroshima Carp To Post Outfielder Seiya Suzuki For MLB Teams

 

Full article text inside this spoiler…

 

 

The Hiroshima Carp of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball will post 27-year-old outfielder Seiya Suzuki for Major League clubs this winter, reports MLB.com’s Jon Morosi. Yahoo Japan reported two weeks ago that Suzuki was likely to be posted for big league clubs.

 

Suzuki’s posting will serve as a major storyline this offseason. The slugging right fielder is considered to be among the very best players in NPB at the moment and is putting the finishing touches on a monster season that has seen him slash .319/.436/.644 with 38 home runs, 26 doubles and nine steals (in 13 tries). That’s hardly a one-year fluke, either; dating back to 2018, the right-handed-hitting Suzuki has put together a combined .319/.435/.592 batting line with 121 home runs, 115 doubles, four triples and 44 stolen bases (albeit in 72 attempts) through 2167 plate appearances. Unlike many sluggers, Suzuki achieves this production without selling out for the power. Since 2018, he’s fanned in only 16.4 percent of his plate appearances — compared to a nearly identical 16 percent walk rate.

 

MLBTR has received a broad range of opinions when checking in with teams who’ve seen Suzuki. That’s in part due to the inherent volatility associated with signing star players from foreign professional leagues, whether it be NPB, the Korea Baseball Organization or the Cuban National Series. It’s also perhaps a reflection of the fact that scouts haven’t had the type of in-person access to Suzuki in recent years that they would have had prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

The most bullish opinions we’ve gotten peg Suzuki as an everyday Major League right fielder — a solid defensive player with a strong arm and enough power to hit in the middle of a big league lineup. In an August profile of Suzuki, Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times cited a scout who called him the “best player in Japan the past few years,” and I’ve heard that sentiment echoed myself in doing background work on Suzuki. Baseball America’s Matt Eddy puts a 70-grade on Suzuki’s raw power (on the 20-80 scale), and at least one evaluator I spoke to thought he could produce 25-plus home runs with a solid batting average and strong on-base percentage. Suzuki is a four-time NPB Gold Glove winner in right field, and the expectation is that he can play average or better defense in the big leagues, even if he’s not a Gold Glover in MLB.

 

There’s obviously a fair bit of risk when committing significant dollars to any international star, and skeptics could point to the recent struggles from Yoshi Tsutsugo and Shogo Akiyama in their own transitions to Major League Baseball. However, Tsutsugo was seen largely as a pure power bat with minimal defensive value and preexisting strikeout issues in Japan. Sports Info Solution’s Ted Baarda took a look just today at why Suzuki is considered a much better bet to succeed in the Majors than Tsutsugo was. Akiyama, meanwhile, was five years older than Suzuki is now when he jumped to the Majors, and he didn’t stack up in the power department. Suzuki is younger and more well-rounded than both Tsutsugo and Akiyama, and we expect interest on the free-agent market to reflect that.

 

Once Suzuki is formally posted, Major League clubs will have 30 days to negotiate with his representatives. As a reminder, the current iteration of the NPB-MLB posting system did away with the former blind-bidding system and the $20MM-max posting fee system. Rather, the current system determines the posting/release fee owed to the Carp based on the size of contract signed by a player.

 

Any big league team that signs Suzuki would owe the Carp a fee equal to 20% of the contract’s first $25MM, 17.5% of the next $25MM and 15% of any dollars thereafter. That fee comes in addition to the contract itself, and any subsequent guaranteed money (e.g. salary unlocked through performance incentives or club options) also falls under this purview. If Suzuki does not agree to terms with a Major League club, he’d return to the Carp for the 2022 season. He could be posted a second time next winter and would be able to pursue Major League opportunities as an unrestricted free agent (i.e. outside the confines of the posting system) following the 2023 season.

 

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Seems like the Mariners would be the obvious fit. They've freed up all sort of money and now don't have the Asian headliner now that Kikuchi declined the option.

 

Agreed. I now tend to almost instantly go: (1) Angels or Mariners (2) Big Market

 

It's almost like, in my mind, those are the only two avenues.

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He has a pretty nice swing.

 

Leg kick might cause him some issues but shouldn't be that big of a problem.

 

Kind of reminds me of a right handed Ohtani with a leg kick. Other than the leg kick their stance and swings look very similar though Suzuki looks to have less of a launch angle than Ohtani.

 

 

With the leg kick he may have some issues timing fastballs but I wouldn't be to worried about it. I think he could hit for an average around .260 and give you 20+ home runs. Defensively I am not sure he fits in the Brewers OF probably would be best in LF.

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Jim Bowden […I know, I know] predicted Seiya Suzuki would end up with a 5 year, $101 million contract in his Free Agent signing predictions article for The Athletic, Top 25 MLB free agents of 2021-22: Jim Bowden’s rankings, contract predictions and best team fits for a stacked class. He has Suzuki ranked as his 14th best free agent. Based on looking at some of his other predictions, I think Bowden tends to be too high with his estimates for likely total dollar values.
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Saw another source that had him at 5 years 65mil including posting fee. At that rate I'm all in. Seems like the best opportunity to try to make this happen.
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I would think the A's would be interested if they were not looking to reduce payroll. I also wouldn't rule out the Giants or Dodgers as possibilities also. I think the Royals, Astros, Guardians and the Marlins could also be interested in Suzuki.
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Rarely do the hitters that come from Japan turn out to be anything more than average at best. Ichiro, Hideki Matsui, and Ohtani are the incredible outliers. Some guys were barely above replacement level and most well below. There just really is no "value" for a small market team to sign a big name hitter from Japan. The big markets will drive up the price to the point that there is just too much risk for an unknown player.
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Rarely do the hitters that come from Japan turn out to be anything more than average at best. Ichiro, Hideki Matsui, and Ohtani are the incredible outliers. Some guys were barely above replacement level and most well below. There just really is no "value" for a small market team to sign a big name hitter from Japan. The big markets will drive up the price to the point that there is just too much risk for an unknown player.

 

Completely agree.

 

Just so risky, and if he fails, it would be a really bad thing for a team like the Brewers.

 

I'd rather stick $ into a proven player than take this gamble.

"I'm sick of runnin' from these wimps!" Ajax - The WARRIORS
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Rarely do the hitters that come from Japan turn out to be anything more than average at best. Ichiro, Hideki Matsui, and Ohtani are the incredible outliers. Some guys were barely above replacement level and most well below. There just really is no "value" for a small market team to sign a big name hitter from Japan. The big markets will drive up the price to the point that there is just too much risk for an unknown player.

 

Have there been that many big bats from Japan? Seems like most have been pitchers. The big whiff was Fukudome and he was already 31 when he signed. Matsui was pretty good when healthy. I think we know a lot more about how that league translates to MLB and what their potential comps would be.

"Dustin Pedroia doesn't have the strength or bat speed to hit major-league pitching consistently, and he has no power......He probably has a future as a backup infielder if he can stop rolling over to third base and shortstop." Keith Law, 2006
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Rarely do the hitters that come from Japan turn out to be anything more than average at best. Ichiro, Hideki Matsui, and Ohtani are the incredible outliers. Some guys were barely above replacement level and most well below. There just really is no "value" for a small market team to sign a big name hitter from Japan. The big markets will drive up the price to the point that there is just too much risk for an unknown player.

 

Have there been that many big bats from Japan? Seems like most have been pitchers. The big whiff was Fukudome and he was already 31 when he signed. Matsui was pretty good when healthy. I think we know a lot more about how that league translates to MLB and what their potential comps would be.

There have been 17 hitters to make their way from Japan to MLB. Of those, three (Matsui, Johjima and Fukodome) had posted an OPS over 1.000 in the three years preceding their MLB debuts. Nine of the 17 were already in their 30s when they made their debut.

 

If history means anything, it can be expected that batting averages and OBPs will be roughly 15% lower in MLB with slugging down over 25%. A .800 OPS would be a reasonable expectation for Suzuki. Perhaps somewhat higher due to his age.

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Still only 10 players from Japan that have cracked even 1,000 PAs in MLB & the Brewers signed the 4th best one (Nori Aoki | 102 OPS+ | 10.4 WAR) almost on accident. But yeah, looking at the full list, it is mostly middle IF, with the only real corner bats being Hideki Matsui (who was a success) & Fukudome (who was older/already on the downside when he came over).

 

Hideki hit 304/413/582 in Japan then hit 295/371/485 (125 OPS+) in his first five MLB seasons. Suzuki is coming over two years younger and has hit a very Matsui-esque 315/415/571 in Japan so far.

 

Every NPB player with over 1,000 MLB PAs...

 

Ichiro | 107 OPS+ | 60.0 WAR

Hid Matsui | 118 OPS+ | 21.2 WAR

Aoki | 102 OPS+ | 10.4 WAR

Ohtani | 137 OPS+ | 10.1 WAR

Tad Iguchi | 93 OPS+ | 6.4 WAR

Johjima | 91 OPS+ | 5.3 WAR

Kaz Matsui | 83 OPS+ | 5.3 WAR

Iwamura | 92 OPS+ | 4.5 WAR

Fukudome | 99 OPS+ | 4.4 WAR

So Taguchi | 86 OPS+ | 2.2 WAR

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Rarely do the hitters that come from Japan turn out to be anything more than average at best. Ichiro, Hideki Matsui, and Ohtani are the incredible outliers. Some guys were barely above replacement level and most well below. There just really is no "value" for a small market team to sign a big name hitter from Japan. The big markets will drive up the price to the point that there is just too much risk for an unknown player.

 

I would rather gamble on someone like Suzuki than gamble on Castellanos/Garcia/etc to continue to be effective throughout their contract. Suzuki will also cost less than the other options in FA. Suzuki is also younger than most of the players that come over from Japan. If he can put up an .800 OPS or more that is extremely valuable to a small market team to sign him. I don't see the Yankees or the Red Sox getting involved with Suzuki. Maybe you will have the Angels, Dodgers and Giants but beyond them I am not sure there is really a big market team that will be driving up his price.

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Just curious, why don't you think the Yankees would be interested?

 

They might want him just to get the Japanese fan base on board and spending their money on Yankee merch again.

 

Matsui made the Yankees a household name in Japan, you don't think they'd love to have that happen again?

"I'm sick of runnin' from these wimps!" Ajax - The WARRIORS
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Just curious, why don't you think the Yankees would be interested?

 

They might want him just to get the Japanese fan base on board and spending their money on Yankee merch again.

 

Matsui made the Yankees a household name in Japan, you don't think they'd love to have that happen again?

 

They are more interested in improving SS and 1B than they are in improving the OF. The Yankees are going hard after Correa and Seager they will get one for sure and I think that will be their big major signing of the year if they have money left over sure they could go after Suzuki but they already have a roster crunch and playing time for OF and DH.

 

I think OF and DH are the least of the Yankees worries and they will probably address the DH or 1B side through a trade(s).

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A few thoughts on Seiya Suzuki…

 

- He’s still young (just turned 27) and has been a top five hitter in NPB for several years while hitting for some serious power. His physique seems to suggest the power isn’t a fluke.

 

- He’s not considered to be great defensively and would be a corner outfielder who could be a candidate to eventually move to DH.

 

- As others have mentioned it’s hard to find perfect comps for Suzuki due to the age and just how good he is at the time of his posting. There are some recent hitters that have struggled, but they also had very different profiles such as Shogo Akiyama who was 32 when he came to MLB, and Yoshi Tsutugo who had a little lower SLG in NPB with a higher strike out rate (21% versus Suzuki’s 16%).

 

- NPB is a very high level of baseball, but probably the biggest difference for hitters is average fastball velocity hovering in the low-90s. That’s a difficult thing to assess the impact of on an individual case-by-case basis until the player enters MLB and makes the necessary adjustments.

 

- Suzuki might have a very different [and possibly larger] free agent market than a lot of players due to age and uncertainty. Even teams that are still in the midst of a rebuild should have interest in signing Suzuki to a multi-year deal. In some ways those teams are even better positioned to take a chance on a player like Suzuki.

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