Rumors: Mariners linked to Japanese hitting star to be posted this winter

HIROSHIMA, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 13: Outfielder Shogo Akiyama #55 of Japan runs to make an inside-the-park home run in the top of 8th inning during the game four between Japan and MLB All Stars at Mazda Zoom Zoom Stadium Hiroshima on November 13, 2018 in Hiroshima, Japan. (Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)
HIROSHIMA, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 13: Outfielder Shogo Akiyama #55 of Japan runs to make an inside-the-park home run in the top of 8th inning during the game four between Japan and MLB All Stars at Mazda Zoom Zoom Stadium Hiroshima on November 13, 2018 in Hiroshima, Japan. (Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

Another off-season, another Japanese Pacific League star being linked to the Seattle Mariners. This time, the player is Shogo Akiyama, a 32-year-old outfielder.

On the surface, the Mariners’ interest in Akiyama is a bit odd. His age doesn’t seem to fit in with a rebuilding timeline and he plays the one position where the Mariners actually have stacked some pretty quality depth at the big league level.

But Akiyama may be better than most of those players and can still help the team reach their 2021 contention goal. You see, over the past 4 seasons, Shogo Akiyama has averaged 143 games played, 20 home runs and at least 171 hits, 31 doubles, and 72 walks in each season.

He also plays a nice centerfield, garnering 55-grade defense, though a move to corner spot is highly likely in the near future. He also grades out as having above-average speed and can steal some bases, but it isn’t really his strong suit.

All in all, most scouts agree that Akiyama is an everyday player at the big league level, but the level of impact he can bring remains to be seen. The home run power has really emerged in the past 3 seasons, and if he can crank out 25 home runs with his usual defense and base-running value, he should be a 3-4 win player for the next few seasons.

The age issue will be tough to overcome for several teams. Statistically speaking, Akiyama is past his physical prime and will be adjusting to a new league as a rookie. There is no guarantee he is an impact player and this could shrink his market.

At the latest reporting, teams scouting Akiyama include the Padres, Cubs, Diamondbacks, and the Mariners, so there will be some competition for his services. It is worth noting that Akiyama was teammates with current Mariners starter Yusei Kikuchi from 2011-2018, which could work in the favor of Seattle.

It is still too early to tell how serious the interest is in Akiyama or his interest in Seattle, but he is a better fit for the team than Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, who we profiled earlier this month.

Next. 5 Mariners most likely to be traded this winter. dark

Seattle certainly has their fair share of outfielders and they’ll need to trade a couple this off-season as is. But remember this; depth isn’t as valuable as impact. Like Tsutsugo, the Mariners will have to decide whether Akiyama is more depth or potential impact. And if they determine the latter, look for them to aggressively pursue yet another outfielder this winter.

facebooktwitterreddit