Japanese star outfielder Seiya Suzuki is on his way to MLB. There are a few steps, and a few possible snags.
First, he needs to be posted by his current Japanese League team, the Hiroshima Carp. That is expected to happen next week, since the Nippon Professional Baseball World Series has to happen first. Game 1 is tomorrow.
The timing might make everything tricky. According to the rules agreed upon between NPB and MLB, once a player is posted, MLB teams have thirty days to make a deal with that player, or he is pulled back. The rub is this: There is a great chance baseball will be shut down December 1, when the current Collective Bargaining Agreement runs out.
So, do they halt the thirty-day clock? Who makes that decision?
With the looming December 1 deadline, once Suzuki is posted, it appears he will have just one week to find a contract. That actually might be the best thing for him. Teams will be forced to make their best offer, not screw around, and sign him quickly.
The Rangers should be in on him. There is only one Ranger position player who has earned a roster spot next season, Adolis Garcia. Everyone else is expendable. Seiya Suzuki would be a huge upgrade. Then again, Ichiro Suzuki would be a huge upgrade. And he’s 48 and hasn’t played for three seasons.
Seiya Suzuki is a legitimate NPB star. The right-handed-hitting outfielder batted .319 with a elite 1.075 OPS in 2021, hitting 38 home runs and driving in 88. The five-time All-Star possesses a plate discipline the Rangers sorely lack. His walk-to-strikeout ratio is elite.
A lot of teams are looking for outfield help. The Rangers will have competition for Suzuki. The Rangers have an advantage in one area, though. They are flush with cash. And signing Suzuki won’t require giving up a draft pick.
It’s always a bit dicey bringing over a player from Japan. Will his skills translate here? Will he be the hitting machine he was there? Most scouts seem to think they will.
Besides, as far as the Rangers are concerned, when you have absolutely nothing, anything looks good.