The New York Yankees are focused on finding a short-stop free agent this off-season, but another name has bubbled to the surface and could be a solution in the outfield.
Suppose the Bombers were looking for an exact replica of Hideki Matsui. In that case, they might have found a player with his potential in Seiyu Suzuki, who is looking to make a move to Major League baseball after spending his career in Japan with the Hiroshima Carps.
The Yankees and Boston Red Sox were two teams “aggresively” pursuing Suzuki before the lockout, and with a 30-day window to strike a deal with a Major League team, that timeline was put on hold as the owners and Players Union battles it out to compromise on several important issues.
However, when things open back up, Suzuki will be a hot commodity on the open market, expected to sign a five-year, $55 million contract, potentially even more.
Looking at Suzuki’s style of play, his preferred position is right field, currently housed by Aaron Judge. Judge is on the brink of a monster contract extension himself, but Suzuki could make the transition to centerfield unless the Yankees are willing to transition Judge away from his strongest spot.
Looking at the Japanese star’s metrics, they closely compare to Matsuiâ€™s back in the day at 26-years-old.
Hideki Matsui’s age 26 season in Japan: .316/.438/.654/1.092 with 42 homers.
Seiya Suzuki’s age 26 seasons in Japan: .317/.433/.639/1.072with 38 homers.
Hideki Matsui's age 26 season in Japan: .316/.438/.654/1.092 with 42 homers.
Seiya Suzuki's age 26 seasons in Japan: .317/.433/.639/1.072with 38 homers.
just sayin #Yankees
— blake (@bbqbaseball62) December 6, 2021
It really can’t get closer between Matsui and Suzuki, who is only about four homers short of exactly replicating Hidekiâ€™s numbers.
Given the success the Yankees have had with Japanese players in the past, notably Masahiro Tanaka, Matsui, and Ichiro Suzuki, making a run at the Hiroshima outfielder could be in their best interest.
Ultimately, it comes down to how much general manager Brian Cashman is going to spend this off-season, having already committed to upgrading the shortstop position and adding a starting pitcher to pair with Gerrit Cole.
Whether it be Trevor Story or Carlos Correa, either will cost upwards of $20 million per season to acquire, and a starting pitcher could hover in the same price range. Unless the team is keen on trading for a shortstop that will cost far less, expect Hal Steinbrenner to open up his checkbook after the lockout, which is hard to believe after the Yankees remained quiet prior to the league shutting down.
In terms of Suzuki, he recently unfollowed the Boston Red Sox on Instagram, so it could be a hint that he prefers to wear pinstripes instead of joining a Boston team that had even more success last season. The team’s relationships with Matsui and Tanaka may even prove to be an advantage in their pursuit of Seiya.