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Reds Add Japanese Outfielder to Team Roster
Jan 13, 2020, 2:29:00 AM

Reds Add Japanese Outfielder to Team Roster

The Cincinnati Reds have bolstered their roster by adding Shogo Akiyama to the team after signing him to a three-year deal. He will wear the number 4 and is set to add depth to the team’s already-strong defensive front.

Akiyama and the Reds agreed on a $21 million deal that would be good until 2022. The contract has salaries of $6 million in 2020, $7 million in 2021, and $8 million in 2022. The five-time Japanese All-Star was introduced in a news conference last Wednesday.

‘We scouted Shogo for several years in anticipation of his free agency’, president of baseball operations Dick Williams said in a statement. ‘We like his approach at the plate as well as his outfield defence, and we think he will complement our team very well’.

The Japanese outfielder becomes the first Japanese player in the team’s 150-year history, which was the last time since the big club added a player from Japan. He could be a great addition to the team in the coming season provided that he is in top shape.

The team have added Pacific Rim scouting manager Rob Fidler and scout Jamey Storvick in the previous offseason. They, however, have kept their eyes on Akiyama for even longer.

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The outfielder drew interest from the Padres and Cubs as well. He was at the Winter Meetings in San Diego last month to meet with clubs including the Reds. He and the team came up with a mutual agreement last December 30.

Akiyama needed to set a second trip from Japan to the US for a physical test. That was performed last Monday. The 31-year-old has been declared physically fit for the upcoming season and is good to go on training with the team.

In his last five seasons, Akiyama had an average of 673.6 PA and over .400 OBP. Fans and analysts are excited to see how he fares in playing in the MLB, where he’ll have plenty of chances to showcase his talent.

He is a .301 career hitter in his nine seasons with the Seibu Lions. He was named in Pacific League All-Star teams in the last five seasons. He also averaged 23 homers in the last three years, including a record-setting 216 hits for a Nippon Professional Baseball single-season record.

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The six-time Pacific League Gold Glove-winning centre-fielder for Seibu may just have the biggest break of his career. He could be more than just a corner outfielder in the Major Leagues, but he can be the team’s trusted centre-fielder next to Nick Senzel, who is just recovering from his right shoulder surgery.

The other outfielders in the team include Jesse Winker, Aristides Aquino and Phillip Ervin. The team will have to figure out how to allocate all of these players into their 2020 plans.

Last year, Akiyama batted for .303/.392/.471 to go along with his 20 home runs. He is also not subject to the expensive posting rules for crossing over to the MLB due to his service time in Nippon Professional Baseball.

Akiyama’s addition to the team might be the key to make their championship run a reality. If he thrives the same way that he did back in Japan, then the team might have just won the offseason.

Akiyama’s presence in the field could spell success for the Reds once he begins playing and coming up with big games.

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Words: Paul Daniel Flores

Image: PA