MLB Rumors: Seiya Suzuki, free agent outfielder of the Hiroshima Carp of the NPB, is expected to be posted this winter, which would allow all thirty MLB teams to seek to sign him. According to Jon Morosi, the Texas Rangers are “seen as one of the most serious suitors” for Suzuki by other teams.
Suzuki is a righthanded power hitting corner outfielder who just put up a .319/.436/.640 slash line in 2021, and who has not had an OPS lower than 936 over the past six years. Having just turned 27 in August, Suzuki is young enough that a team signing him would be expecting to be able to land his prime years, while he is also old enough that he is not subject to the international free agent spending limits that players who are under 25 are subject to.
In the Fangraphs write-up on Suzuki in their top 50 free agents piece, they note that Suzuki “tries to pull the ball with power as often as possible,” but has good pitch recognition and two strike approach. However, they also note that he’s vulnerable to fastballs inside, a weakness that could be more easily exploited by MLB pitchers, who throw much harder than their JPL counterparts. Fangraphs projects Suzuki to get 4 years, $40 million, while Kiley McDaniel has Suzuki at 4 years, $48 million. The signing team would also have to pay a posting fee to the Carp, which would be a percentage of the total deal Suzuki signs — McDaniel notes that his projected contract would result in a roughly $9 million posting fee.
The Rangers have been aggressive historically in scouting and signing players from Japan, and so it is no surprise they are being linked to Suzuki, particularly given their need for righthanded power. A four year deal at $10-15M per year would be a reasonable deal if you are reasonably confident Suzuki will be a 2-3 win player, though there are always concerns about translating overseas performance into MLB projections. The disappointing 2021 season by Ha-Seong Kim, the infielder who came over from Korea on a 4 year, $28 million deal with the San Diego Padres last offseason, likely has put at least a slight damper on team’s willingness to pony up for the latest top import.