Blue Jays still in the running for outfielder Shogo Akiyama

FUKUOKA, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 07: Outfielder Shogo Akiyama #51 of Japan grounds out in the bottom of 3rd inning during the baseball friendly between Japan and Chinese Taipei at Fukuoka Yahuoku! Dome on November 7, 2018 in Fukuoka, Japan. (Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)
FUKUOKA, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 07: Outfielder Shogo Akiyama #51 of Japan grounds out in the bottom of 3rd inning during the baseball friendly between Japan and Chinese Taipei at Fukuoka Yahuoku! Dome on November 7, 2018 in Fukuoka, Japan. (Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images) /
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The Toronto Blue Jays are reportedly still in the running for the services of outfielder Shogo Akiyama although the Cincinnati Reds appear to be the favourites.

According to Jon Heyman of the MLB Network, the Blue Jays are one of five teams vying for Japanese outfielder Shogo Akiyama. Heyman opines that the Reds have been aggressive all winter in their pursuit, however, the likes of the Diamondbacks, Padres, Cubs and possibly the Jays are all said to have varying degrees of interest in the 31-year old.

Akiyama hit .303/.392/.471 with 20 home runs and 12 stolen bases in 20 attempts for the Seibu Lions of the Japan Pacific League last season. In nine seasons with Seibu, Akiyama is a career .301/.376/.454 hitter with 116 homers and 112 stolen bases in 1207 games for the Lions.

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The Blue Jays are in desperate need of an outfielder especially one that can handle the centrefield responsibilities day in and day out. As it stands right now, Randal Grichuk, Teoscar Hernandez and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. would round out the outfield trio with the likes of Billy McKinney, Derek Fisher, Anthony Alford, and Jonathan Davis all on the outside looking in.

Grichuk would be better served back in right field while Hernandez projects more as a designated hitter and eventually possibly a first baseman. Gurriel just began playing the outfield at the major league level last season after failed attempts as an infielder.

Alford and Davis project as the better defensive options although both have had just cups of coffee in the majors and have yet to prove their bats will play on a regular basis.

The team has already added Korean native Hyun-Jin Ryu along with Japanese pitcher Shun Yamaguchi this offseason.

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It would appear that Akiyama is likely a longshot but the brain trust is undoubtedly doing their due diligence in their efforts to improve the outfield complexion for 2020.

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