ORIGINAL POST: It appears Seiya Suzuki has made a decision … or not.
Nikkan Sports in Japan reported Monday that Suzuki agreed to join the San Diego Padres in free agency. The deal reportedly is expected to total around $70 million over five years and include opt-outs.
However, Dylan Hernández of the Los Angeles Times heard Monday that Suzuki hasn’t picked an MLB franchise yet and that six to seven teams remain under consideration.
Kevin Acee of The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Monday that it appeared Suzuki’s decision was “not far away,” although he also advised exercising caution amid a volatile market.
Suzuki’s market figured to be robust thanks to his age (27), upside and skill set. And it certainly seems like that’s been the case — despite the lockout interrupting his free agency — as MLB insider Jon Heyman reported last week that the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants and Seattle Mariners were among the hottest pursuers of Suzuki.
Heyman circled back Monday to report those five teams — in addition to the Padres — remain in the running for Suzuki.
All told, Suzuki signing with San Diego would come as no surprise. The outfielder worked out for the Padres over the weekend at Petco Park, sources told The Athletic. He also shares an agent with Yu Darvish, a member of the Padres, and reportedly visited with the Japanese pitcher and his family before leaving for Arizona.
Suzuki was arguably the best player in Japan the past few years, providing Gold Glove defense and an intriguing offensive profile that includes excellent plate discipline and decent pop. He batted .317 with 38 home runs, 88 RBIs and 1.073 OPS in 132 games last season with the Hiroshima Carp of Nippon Professional Baseball.
The Red Sox could use another outfielder — particularly one who swings from the right side of the plate, like Suzuki. Their current outfield mix consists of Alex Verdugo, Kiké Hernández, Jackie Bradley Jr., Jarren Duran and J.D. Martinez.
That’s a solid group, but it’s not without uncertainty. Bradley, acquired in a trade involving Hunter Renfroe, is coming off a disappointing offensive season with the Milwaukee Brewers. Duran, meanwhile, is inexperienced, and Martinez is best served as the full-time designated hitter.
UPDATE (Monday, 7:10 p.m. ET): Seiya Suzuki took to social media to clear the air: He has not made a decision.
“There have been several reports that I’ve made my decision but none of that is true,” Suzuki posted to his Instagram story.