Japanese outfielder Shogo Akiyama fits nearly all the Cubs’ needs, which is why they’ve been targeting him this offseason. They only box he doesn’t check is cost, which is to say he isn’t willing to offer his services for the price of…on the house. The 32-year-old Akiyama is, however, reportedly seeking a bargain deal of $5 million per season for only two seasons.
Both money and years could change based on negotiations, which Akiyama’s camp apparently concluded last week at the Winter Meetings in San Diego. According to Yahoo Japan, the outfielder met with the Rays, Diamondbacks, and Reds in addition to the Cubs over the last few days. Per the report, he’s back in Japan and will be mulling his options over the next two weeks.
Though Akiyama declined to comment on any of the conversations, he’s expected to make a decision by Christmas. That really doesn’t mean anything one way or the other as far as the Cubs are concerned, though the Rays signing Japanese slugger Yoshitomo Tsutsugo — who is a lefty batter like Akiyama — may remove them from the running. The Reds’ short porch would factor for a power hitter and Arizona’s climate and closer proximity to Japan might be in play.
In the end, it may be about who’s willing to offer Akiyama the most money in spite of his broken foot, advanced age, and lack of American experience. Should he be able to overcome any and all of those to any significant degree, he’ll be well worth what he’s reportedly asking for.