In a move that many expected to happen this offseason, outfielder Seiya Suzuki of the Hiroshima Toyo Carp in the Nippon Professional Baseball League is expected to be posted for all Major Leagues teams to negotiate with over the next thirty days, including the Toronto Blue Jays.
Every offseason, multiple players from the NPB, the top baseball league in Japan, are posted for Major League teams to sign. Under the current CBA, any MLB team that signs a posted player is subject to a percentage fee depending on the value/terms of the contract that they must pay to the former team as compensation for losing the posted player.
Suzuki is going to be a pretty hot commodity for teams looking to improve their outfield, as the righty-batter has posted a career .315/.415/.571 slash line through nine seasons with the Carp in the Central League. He also has 182 home runs, 562 RBI, and a .945 OPS through 901 games and also won the Home Run Derby back in 2019 to go along with four All-Star appearances. Defensively, Suzuki has spent the majority of his career in the outfield, winning three gold glove awards with a .986 fielding percentage through 841 games.
With Japanese All-Star Seiya Suzuki being posted later today, are the Blue Jays going to look into signing the prized outfielder this offseason?
The Blue Jays are no stranger to the posting process, signing pitcher Shun Yamaguchi back in the 2019 offseason while also being actively engaged in trying to sign Tomoyuki Sugano last winter without success, as he returned to the NPB after failing to reach an agreement with any club.
Does Seiya Suzuki fit on the Blue Jays roster?
Suzuki is an interesting player considering he has power off the bat but also has the ability to put the ball in play, evident by his career .315 batting average and only 567 strikeouts through 2973 at-bats. There is always an associated risk that any international player may struggle to adjust to playing in the MLB (Yamaguchi for example) while some experience no issues like Shohei Ohtani (MVP Award winner and two-way superstar) or Masahiro Tanaka.
If Suzuki was to sign with the Blue Jays, having a righty-batter at the top of the lineup who can put the ball in play would bode well if the club does lose Marcus Semien this offseason. His power would form a pretty scary lineup alongside George Springer, Bo Bichette, Teoscar Hernandez, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. that could continue to produce one of the best offensive lineups in the league, similar to this past season. This all rides on whether Suzuki can continue to produce in the MLB but taking a chance on a player with a career .985 OPS is a gamble that teams will most likely not shy away from.
The bigger question is where he fits on the defensive side of the ball, as the Blue Jays are pretty stacked in the outfield right now with Springer, Hernandez, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., and Randal Grichuk already in the mix. This of course changes if Gurriel Jr. or Grichuk gets moved this offseason but Suzuki has spent a majority of his career in right field which is currently occupied by Hernandez, who has started to improve on his defensive game to the tune of a -2 bDRS, an uptick from his 2019 campaign where he posted a -7 bDRS. Suzuki does provide upside in the field compared to Hernandez but to have the Silver Slugger move to either left field or into the designated hitter role doesn’t seem like it is in the cards unless Gurriel Jr. does get moved and he could fill in with his departure.
Factor in that the Blue Jays have to convince Suzuki to sign with them over the rest of his suitors, the club does have some hurdles in the way when it comes to bringing the outfielder North of the border. There hasn’t been any formal indication as to what type of contract he will command in terms of salary per year but one would imagine that it won’t come cheaply, which the Blue Jays will have to take into consideration with the front office being pretty active in the pitching market to begin the offseason. MLB Trade Rumours has him projected to earn $55 million with a five-year deal.
While it would be great to have Seiya Suzuki on the Jays roster, unless they can move some other pieces in the outfield or have him play in a different position, the likelihood that the star player signs with Toronto seems slim but not impossible. His addition doesn’t really fit a need when it comes to problem areas on the roster like the rotation or at third base and the club may be better off saving money to improve these areas.
With the CBA set to expire and Suzuki being posted today if there is indeed a lockout, his 30-day window will most likely be paused until a new CBA is in place. There was a discussion between the NPB and the MLB on the issue of the posting system in regards to the CBA but it appears no formal agreement is in place at the moment.