Saturday, July 2, 2022

Veteran outfielder Shogo Akiyama to return to Japan after finding no interest from MLB teams, per report

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USATSI

Shogo Akiyama, a veteran outfielder who was released by the San Diego Padres last week after exercising his opt-out clause, intends to return to Japan after receiving no interest from other Major League Baseball clubs, according to comments he made to the Japan Times

“I’ve been told by my agent that we’ve gotten no offers from teams in American baseball,” Akiyama said. “I’ll return to Japan before making my next decision.”

Akiyama, 34, originally joined MLB ahead of the 2020 season, when he inked a three-year pact with the Cincinnati Reds worth $21 million. In two seasons with the Reds, he batted .224/.320/.274 (56 OPS+) with no home runs and nine stolen bases on 15 attempts. His contributions were worth an estimated 0.3 wins below replacement, per Baseball Reference’s calculations. 

Akiyama was released by the Reds ahead of Opening Day. A month later, he signed a minor-league pact with the Padres. Over the course of 16 games with San Diego’s Triple-A affiliate, he hit .343/.378/.529 with three home runs and a pair of stolen bases. Nevertheless, the Padres declined to place him on their active roster when he triggered his opt-out clause, choosing instead to release him. 

Akiyama’s rough stint on the American baseball circuit shouldn’t obscure how productive he was during his time in Japan. In parts of nine seasons with the Seibu Lions of the Nippon Professional Baseball league, he hit .301/.376/.454. He made five All-Star Games and won six Golden Glove Awards.

The Reds remain responsible for the outstanding portion of what remains on his $8 million salary this season.

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