Despite a number of high-profile free agents coming off the board before the MLB lockout, several difference-makers remain available to sign. The group includes Seiya Suzuki, who was posted by the Hiroshima Carp of Nippon Professional Baseball on Nov. 22.
The 27-year-old had one month to join a team, but the work stoppage put a pause on the process. When a new collective bargaining agreement is reached, he will have roughly three weeks to sign a contract with an MLB team.
That comes after the NPB begins Spring Training, which would present a dilemma for Suzuki, but he appears determined to make the jump to the big leagues this year.
With MLB games frequently being televised in Japan, Suzuki had the opportunity to observe players from all 30 teams. He came away impressed with Los Angeles Dodgers All-Star Trea Turner and followed him on Instagram, via Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic:
This past season, when it became clear that Hiroshima would agree to post him, Suzuki started to watch more major-league games. The Angels are televised most frequently in Japan because of Ohtani. But Suzuki took note of players on every team. He started following stars like Trea Turner and Alex Bregman on Instagram. “One of the things I noticed is a lot of players have their own persona, which not many Japanese players have,” Suzuki said. “To think about having the chance to play with them is very special.”
Having identified Turner as one of his favorite players to watch, it’s interesting to note that the Dodgers were among a handful of teams to express interest in Suzuki before the lockout.
The star outfielder set career highs with 38 home runs and a 1.079 on-base plus slugging percentage last season, and in nine years playing in NPB, hit .315/.415/.571 while making five All-Star teams.
In addition to the Dodgers, the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays are believed to have aggressively pursued Suzuki.
Suzuki considers himself ‘all-around type of player’
Although Suzuki has drawn the most praise for his power, he considers himself to be more of a complete player who is also capable of hitting for a high average and getting on base.
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