The free agency period has yet to begin, but the Royals may already be eyeing one potential addition. The Hiroshima Carp of the NPB in Japan are taking preliminary steps to post outfielder Seiya Suzuki, and the Royals are one of the teams said to be interested according to Yahoo! News.
Suzuki is younger than most players that make the jump from Japan at just 27 years old, and he is one of the biggest power hitters in the league. The right-handed hitter batted .319/.436/.644 with 38 home runs and 87 walks in 131 games for the Carp this year and is described as a five-tool player and one of the best players in Japan the last few years.
Suzuki seems best suited for right field with a strong arm as a former high school pitcher. Despite good speed he hasn’t been a good basestealer, swiping 102 bases in nine seasons but with just a 60 percent success rate.
Under posting rules that were instituted in the 2018-19 offseason, the “release fee” — an amount that an NPB club must receive in the event an agreement is reached between a posted player and a Major League club — depends on the guaranteed value of the contract a posted player signs with a Major League club. All 30 MLB clubs have 30 days to negotiate with a player after he is posted. Typically, players have to be posted between Nov. 1 and Dec. 5. (The “posting window” was pushed back to Nov. 8-Dec. 12 in 2020.)
If no agreement is reached in that timeframe, the player returns to his NPB club for the coming season. He cannot be posted again until the following offseason. Previously, Japanese clubs set a release fee that could be as high as $20 million. Any MLB club that was willing to meet the designated release fee could negotiate with the player for 30 days after the player was posted, but only the club with which the player signed had to pay that release fee.
Suzuki’s deal would not be subject to international bonus pool limits.
Shogo Akiyama netted a three-year, $21 million deal from the Reds, while Yoshi Tsutsugo signed a two-year, $12 million deal with the Rays (and has since been released and is now with the Pirates). Any team that signs Suzuki is probably looking at a three-year deal worth more than the $7 million per season Akiyama received, plus the posting fee on top of that. The Rays, Phillies, Mariners, Rangers, and Blue Jays are the other teams reported to be interested in Suzuki.
The Royals are currently set with Andrew Benintendi in left field and Michael A. Taylor in center, but there are questions whether Hunter Dozier will patrol right field next year after a poor season. Kyle Isbel and Edward Olivares are also options for the outfield.