There isn’t much going on these days as we wade into the nothingness of the lockout, but we learned this weekend that the Blue Jays were among the teams who were pursuing Seiya Suzuki, an outfielder from Japan.
According to an MLB Notebook post in the Boston Sports Journal by Sean McAdam, the Blue Jays, Yankees, and Red Sox are apparently the teams who have been the “most aggressive” in pursuit of Suzuki.
The Renfroe-for-Bradley swap has more than a few people in the game believing that the Sox are intent on landing Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki, whose posting process was frozen when the lockout went in effect. The thinking: Suzuki could play right field for the Sox, replacing Renfroe both defensively and as a productive right-handed bat. The Sox could then keep Kike Hernandezin center and Alex Verdugoin left. That may well be true, but though one major league source reports the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Red Sox have been the most aggressive in pursuit of Suzuki, teams can hardly be certain of the player’s attention. The Sox could, after all, be the highest bidders for Suzuki, only to learn that he would rather play on the West Coast, the way Shohei Ohtani did a few years back. Still, Suzuki would fill an obvious need for the Sox, and importantly, not cost them any draft picks. One major league evaluator who has scouted Suzuki extensively for his club remarked to colleagues recently that Suzuki is, indeed, “a difference-maker.”
Suzuki has played nine seasons for the Hiroshima Carp and has produced some very impressive numbers with the bat. Most recently, he slashed a .317/.433/.639 line with 38 homers and an 88-to-87 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 533 plate appearances.
The Carp posted Suzuki back on November 22, giving him a 30-day window to negotiate a deal with any Major League club. But, due to the lockout, this process has been paused, so his window will reopen whenever the work stoppage comes to an end.
The posting process is different now than it used to be when the Blue Jays pretended to be in the mix for Yu Darvish. Back then, teams would submit silent auction bids to Japanese clubs and the highest bidder would get a few days to hammer out a deal with the player. Now, it’s been changed so that players can negotiate with any MLB team and their Japanese club gets a cut of the contract they end up signing.
Adding Suzuki would be interesting for the Blue Jays because it would most certainly mean that another one of their outfielders would be on the way out.
One would guess that Lourdes Gurriel would be the odd man out in trade that brings back another player at a position of needs, such as third base or pitcher. The Blue Jays are also likely trying to unload Randal Grichuk’s contract after his mediocre 2021 season, but it’s difficult to imagine the team spending a bunch of money to bring in Suzuki while keeping around all three of Gurriel, Teoscar Hernandez, and George Springer.