On Tuesday, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred canceled the first two series of the regular season, making this the first time in league history that an owner-imposed lockout will compromise the schedule. One of the potential effects of that decision involves free-agent outfielder Seiya Suzuki, who could decide he'd rather play in Japan for another season than continue to sit on ice until the work stoppage ends and he's permitted to sign with an MLB team.
Suzuki's agent Joel Wolfe put that scenario to rest on Tuesday. Wolfe told The Athletic's Andrew Baggarly: "Seiya is 100% committed to playing in MLB this year. He's shown remarkable patience and resolve."
Suzuki, 27 years old, entered the offseason ranked by CBS Sports as the 15th-best free agent on the market after he was "posted" by the Hiroshima Toyo Carp. His career in Nippon Professional Baseball has seen him make five All-Star Games and hit for a .315/.415/.571 slash line. Back in January, CBS Sports obtained Suzuki's ball-tracking data from last season and compared it to big-league hitters to get a sense of how he might perform in the majors. Here's a snippet of that analysis:
Suzuki hits the ball hard; he makes a good amount of contact; he seldom swings at balls; and he has an optimized launch angle. If you were building the ideal hitter from scratch, you'd make a point of including all of those qualities before you sent them to the dish.
All the above seems to bode well for Suzuki as he attempts to become a productive big-league hitter. Factor in his strong arm, and his presence in right field should make him a meaningful contributor on both sides of the ball. (He's not much of a base-stealing threat, suggesting his contributions will end there.)
Suzuki remains subject to the posting system, meaning he'll have what's left of his 30-day window to talk to and negotiate with teams. Provided he can reach an agreement within that window, the Carp will receive a percentage of his contract's overall value as compensation. If Suzuki doesn't sign with a MLB team before the window expires, he'll return to Japan, the way ace Tomoyuki Sugano did last winter.
Suzuki has or is expected to draw interest from the Boston Red Sox, San Francisco Giants, Texas Rangers, San Diego Padres, and Seattle Mariners, among others. CBS Sports predicted he'll sign for four years and around $64 million back in January.