Report: Yankees may have home-town competition for Japanese star slugger Seiya Suzuki

Alexander Wilson
Seiya Suzuki, yankees

One of the Yankees‘ top off-season targets is Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki. General manager Brian Cashman was reportedly an “aggressive” suitor for the right-handed slugger, but after the lockout commenced, talks simmered down.

Suzuki is an incredibly intriguing prospect who closely mirrors Hideki Matsui when he transitioned to the MLB at 27 years old. While Matsui was a lefty hitter, both played outfield and featured similar numbers in their final season in the Japanese Central League.

In a recent interview, Suzuki detailed his excitement to compete against better players in the USA, hitting on several Japanese-born athletes who have made the transition.

Even if the Yankees push to sign Suzuki, who is expected to land a deal in the range of five-years, $55 million, they will have competition with many squads looking to bolster their outfield talent.

According to Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic, the Yankees could have competition from the Mets for Suzuki:

The Dodgers, Padres, Yankees, Rays and Blue Jays also are expected to be in the mix. Perhaps Billy Eppler, who was so instrumental in recruiting Ohtani to the Angels, will use the same persuasive skills now that he’s running the Mets front office. Or perhaps Suzuki will seek to do more than emulate Trout. Perhaps he’d like to become his teammate in Anaheim.

Just minutes after Hiroshima posted Suzuki’s rights, giving him a 30-day window to choose a Major League team, clubs begin calling to inquire about his services.

“Some had elaborately prepared presentations and others were a small group having a very personable chat,” Suzuki’s agent Joel Wolfe said. “All of them had at least the GM, manager, and hitting coach. Many included Japanese staff members. In each case, the GM and manager led the conversation. Seiya always had thoughtful answers and interesting questions.”

The Yankees could use Seiya immediately, whether it be as a starter or DH hitter:

Suzuki would bring a tremendous offensive bat to the Bombers, fitting their mold perfectly. This past season, he hit .317 with 38 homers and 88 RBIs, recording a .989 feeling percentage in right field. The Yankees do have Joey Gallo, Aaron Judge, and Giancarlo Stanton as starting options in the OF, not to mention the return of Aaron Hicks at some point.

However, with their troubled injury history and the loss of Brett Gardner, Clint Frazier, and Tyler Wade, Suzuki’s presence would be valuable moving forward.