As baseball turns its eyes towards the offseason, one name has been on everyone’s mind: Seiya Suzuki, the slugging outfielder from the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of the NPB. The Hiroshima Toyo Carp have agreed to accept Suzuki’s posting request: being “posted” in baseball means that Japanese players can negotiate with MLB teams for a major league contract. The MLB team then pays a fee to the NPB club of the player based on the value of the contract.
Suzuki was officially posted yesterday, on November 15th. He has 30 days to sign with a team, otherwise he will return to Hiroshima, per Andrew Baggarly.
Suzuki must sign within 30 days of being posted or he returns to Hiroshima. But from what I understand, MLB and NPB were close to an agreement in which that clock would be stopped in the event of an industry lockout. https://t.co/2wXEAovhEj— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) November 16, 2021
Last year, Suzuki batted .319/.436/.640 with 38 home runs, his best season. He walked 88 times to 87 strikeouts in 535 plate appearances, showing a powerfully discerning eye to go along with all his immense power. Through 9 seasons, he owns a .315/.415/.571 slash line. According to DeltaGraphs, a Japanese sabermetrics site, Suzuki led all NPB players with 8.7 WAR. The next closest player had 7.0 WAR; a gap of 1.7 WAR. For comparison, MLB’s bWAR leader Shohei Ohtani “only” outranked his closest competitor Zack Wheeler by 1.4 bWAR. Suzuki was easily the best player in a league full of highly talented players, many of whom go on to have successful careers in MLB.
So why should the San Francisco Giants sign Suzuki? For one, he’s a right-handed hitting outfielder, two major needs for the Giants offseason. 2021 saw the Giants use a rotating combination of LaMonte Wade Jr., Darin Ruf, Mike Yastrzemski, Alex Dickerson, Steven Duggar, Kris Bryant and Austin Slater in the outfield. While both Wade Jr. and Ruf had excellent seasons, Wade Jr. is a left-handed bat and Ruf is a platoon player. Both Yastrzemski and Dickerson underperformed (106 wRC+ and 97 wRC+, respectively), unable to find their peak swings. Duggar is more known for his defense than his bat, Bryant is no longer on the team, and Slater doesn’t have the same pop or bat ability as Suzuki. Suzuki would immediately insert a superstar into a significant part of the Giants offense. His being right-handed would also give Kapler more flexibility in matchups, as the Giants last year frequently would field teams of almost all left-handed bats except Posey, who is now no longer on the team either.
Fangraphs predicts that Suzuki’s contract will be somewhere in the ballpark of 4 years/$40 million. For a big-market team like the Giants that has money to spend, that is a highly affordable contract for an impact bat that could strengthen their lineup as they try to improve on their 107-win season.
The Giants will face competition, as reports have emerged that multiple other teams will be engaged in negotiations: the Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Dodgers, just to name a few. Still, the Giants have the allure of being the team with the best season record in MLB last year, as well as the West Coast draw, to entice Suzuki into signing with them. The Giants also just promoted Taira Uematsu, making them the only team in the MLB to have a native Japanese speaker on their full-time coaching staff.
Here is a video of all of Suzuki’s 2019 home runs: