Although Seiya Suzuki has never played a game at the Major League level, he is among the top free agents still available.
He was posted by the Hiroshima Carp of Nippon Professional Baseball on Nov. 22, which gave 30 days to join an MLB team, however, his signing period was paused due to the ongoing lockout.
The outfielder has developed into a superstar in Japan since his 2013 debut as an 18-year-old. Most often cited for his plus-power, Suzuki has nearly 200 career home runs in 900 NPB games and he has averaged 20 per season in a league that plays 146 games each year.
Although Suzuki has drawn the most praise for his power, he feels like he can contribute on all levels of the game and that he will just keep improving, via Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic:
“I can’t really praise myself that much because I feel I can get even better as a player,” Suzuki said. “But I feel I’m good at being disciplined at the plate, and not just hitting home runs but also getting on base and being a contact hitter as well. And also running the bases. I feel like I’m an all-around type of player.”
Suzuki backs up his statement as a career .315/.414/.570 hitter who also has a very strong arm and plays solid defense in the outfield, but it is hard to envision him improving a lot at baseball’s highest level.
The Dodgers have shown interest in signing the 27-year-old, but he is expected to have a sizable market once the MLB lockout ends. It was also reported that a bidding war in the American League East could erupt for Suzuki as the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays were aggressively pursuing him.
Whenever that timeframe for Suzuki to sign starts again, he will have roughly three weeks to reach an agreement or else return to Hiroshima for the 2022 season.
However, with MLB and the Players Association at significant odds, there’s no telling when a new collective bargaining agreement reached. It could come after the NPB begins Spring Training, which would present a dilemma for Suzuki but he appears determined to join an MLB club and would be willing to wait it out.
How Suzuki could fit on Dodgers roster
If the Dodgers were to sign Suzuki, they would have to get creative with their roster. They could opt to trade AJ Pollock to make room, but that seems like it would mostly be a lateral and unnecessary move.
If the universal designated hitter comes to the National League, that would help solve the problem but it isn’t a guarantee to happen.
L.A. could also get really creative and give Mookie Betts more time at second base, Cody Bellinger at first base and Max Muncy at third base, but that ends up creating a lot of moving parts.
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