According to a report out of Japan, outfielder Shogo Akiyama has narrowed his potential destination down to either the Reds or Padres. San Diego was not among the four teams with whom Akiyama had reportedly met at the Winter Meetings, but they have come on strong of late. The Reds, apparently the only MLB team to never have a Japanese player, have been aggressive this spring and see Akiyama as a solidifying force in their lineup.
My Japanese is a little rusty, but you don’t need to be able to read the original text to understand what “the austerity mood” means. The Cubs simply don’t have room in the budget to add Akiyama, even with a contract that is expected to be only $10 million over two seasons.
That’s incredibly reasonable for a guy who hasn’t missed a game in five years and has averaged a .399 OBP over that span. Even accounting for age- and transition-based regression, the Cubs could use a consistent contact hitter. They also need an everyday center fielder, assuming a platoon of Ian Happ and Albert Almora Jr. isn’t a priority. Then again, having two guys who make less than even an inexpensive free agent is a good deal when limiting payroll is a priority.
At this point we’re just stirring a tub of glue with the stick we had been using to beat the dead horse, so you don’t really need to hear once again about the Cubs’ inability to spend before cutting salary. And yet, here we are just the same. Akiyama seemed like a perfect fit for what the Cubs needed, but that matters little when the front office needs to get under the competitive balance tax threshold. Missing out on Eric Sogard was easy to swallow, this one isn’t as much so.