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Reds nearing an agreement with Shogo Akiyama?

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We just might have the first ever Japanese-born ballplayer in Reds history

Japan v MLB All Stars - Game 4 Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images

A bit from Nikkan Sports started bouncing around this afternoon apparently announcing that the Reds and Shogo Akiyama are consummating a deal for three years and $16 million. I’ve been an unapologetic fan of Shogo Akiyama for literally almost two months. At the beginning of the offseason, I dug around for potential Nippon Professional Baseball players who might make the jump to MLB and Shogo Akiyama was tops on my list. Here’s what I said back then:

“Shogo is a free agent, unlike the previous three players mentioned. That means he does not have to navigate the posting system and he is free to sign with whatever team he chooses. He is a five-time NPB All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner in center field. In nine seasons with the Seibu Lions, he has slashed .301/.376/.454 in about 5300 PAs … “

“ … I think of the four of these Shogo is the one I am most interested in. He would potentially solve a few significant issues for the Reds, as he could provide above-average on-base skills to the top of the lineup while also anchoring the outfield defense. He is 31 years old so he likely will not require a significant long-term deal (my guess is that two or three years will be enough). He does strike out a bit, but his walk and contact rates are more than enough to counterbalance that … He is not Ichiro or Yu Darvish-level talent (few are, of course), but I would not be surprised at all if he puts together a few years of 2-4 WAR production.”

Now, I haven’t seen any domestic news outlets running with this yet, but I don’t have any reason to doubt it. And if it is true, this looks like a really good deal for the Reds. Akiyama’s best tool is his ability to get on base, which is something pretty much every non-Joey Votto Red has struggled with over the last decade or so. And he looks to be a perfect compliment to the current group of outfielders already with the team.

Also worth mentioning, it seems less likely (again, only if this report is accurate) that the Reds will still pursue expensive outfielders like Nick Castellanos and Marcell Ozuna. Their ISO-heavy hitting profiles never really looked all that appealing to me, anyway.

But most importantly, it looks to me like the Reds are finally taking me, Fred Regorter of Red Reporter, seriously. I said they should do this and by god it looks like they listened. Which is why I am resigning my position with Red Reporter, effective immediately. I’m sure the Reds will be calling any minute now to offer me a position as a VP of baseball operations or something like that.

** UPDATE **

It appears there is not yet a rock solid agreement between these two sides, though that doesn’t mean it’s not close. Both MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon and MLB whateverheis Jon Heyman have since chimed in with updates:

Stay tuned!