Texas Rangers Free Agent Debate: Seiya Suzuki
For most fans, the name Seiya Suzuki doesn’t ring a bell. However, the 27-year old Arakawa, Japan native could be on his way to the states relatively quickly after the lockout ends and the Texas Rangers want to be at the top of his list.
Baseball Reference has Suzuki listed as a third baseman, shortstop and outfielder, so he presents some versatility to whatever MLB team acquires his services. However, for the Rangers, he is an immediate answer to the gap in left field. A void that has needed filling since the David Murphy days of the early 2010’s.
Let’s dive into the numbers, first. Then, as Mark DeRosa says, we’ll lock in on the financials.
Seiya Suzuki is a career .309 hitter with a .943 OPS, tacking on 189 homeruns, 621 RBIs and 102 stolen bases. A very well-rounded outfielder that is more athletic and more bat-to-ball than his statesman Yoshi Tsutsugo, who came and flopped in the states just three years ago.
Looking specifically at 2021, Suzuki hit .317/.433/.636 with an OPS of 1.069. He played in 134 out of 146 games, hitting 38 homers, 26 doubles and drove in 88 runners. He was also 9-13 on stolen base attempts. Defensively, he had a .989 fielding percentage with 13 assists, 4 double plays and only committed 3 errors in 270 chances.
If the numbers aren’t enough, let’s take a look at some of his NPB accolades. He’s a three time Central League Gold Glove winner in the outfield in 2016-2017 and 2019. He was awarded the Best Nine Award, awarded to the best player at their respective position across the Central and Pacific leagues, four times by Japanese journalists. He’s a five time NPB All-Star, including 2021. In 2019, he took home the Central League batting title and OBP title, as well as winning two gold medals in the Olympics for team Japan in 2020 and the World Baseball Softball Confederation Premier12 in 2019.
Plus, this dude’s swing is smooth. Check this.
Now, what would it take to get this guy to Arlington. Well, MLB Trade Rumors has him projected at five years, $55 million going to the Rangers, but would end up being close to $65 million because of the posting fee. To me, that is extremely reasonable for a guy that has posted up in Japan and is in the midst of his prime. Texas is also connected to this market fairly often, given signings like Yu Darvish and Kohei Arihara in the past.
The only concern with Japanese players is how they will adjust to big league pitching, guys who consistently throw 96-99mph and have elite breaking stuff. As I mentioned with Tsutsugo, it didn’t work out, but Suzuki has that it factor. He’s very patient and has a short, compact swing that should play in the big leagues. At best, in my opinion, he’s got Hideki Matsui potential.
Now that we’ve got some player profiles built, let’s debate.