MLB

A report from Yahoo! Japan suggests the Sox could be favorites to sign Suzuki as soon as the MLB lockdown is lifted.

Seiya Suzuki. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

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The Red Sox could use some help and power on the field after trading Hunter Renfroe and his 31 homers after the end of the 2021 season.

Turns out they might be preparing to make a splash to get it.

A report from Yahoo! Japan said this week the Red Sox could be the first to land Japanese star Seiya Suzuki to a free agent contract, and the team could reach a deal for the outfielder when the MLB lockdown is lifted.

Previous updates suggested the Red Sox were among three American League East teams, including the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees, vying for Suzuki’s services before operations were halted. locking. This latest news also appears to conflict with another report from this week indicating the Red Sox weren’t on Suzuki’s short roster.

Which angle is true won’t be known until after baseball’s work stoppage. But if nothing else, the slugger would seem to fill a big need in Boston right now.

He’s a big hitter.

The 27-year-old outfielder is a lifetime .309/.402/.943 hitter with 189 homers and 621 RBI and earned five All-Star nominations and three Gold Gloves over nine professional seasons in Japan.

Last year, Suzuki hit .317 with a career-high 38 home runs and 88 RBIs in 134 games for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of the Nippon Professional Baseball League.

His right-handed power, assuming he follows him to the United States, would fit well on Fenway Park’s short left-field porch. He’s hit no less than 25 homers in his last six seasons, so his power tool seems to be well developed.

It improves the depth of the outfield.

His arrival could also significantly improve the outfield defensively, which would be welcome after the team struggled with errors last season. Renfroe led all MLB outfielders with 12 errors, with Verdugo and Hernandez each committing four errors in the outfield.

Adding the versatile Suzuki in right field would allow the left-handed Verdugo to move to left field, which might be a more natural position, and leave Gold-Glover Jackie Bradley Jr. and Kiké Hernandez to the pack at center. Suzuki has experience at the other spots though, meaning he could spell players at other spots on their days off.

A late-inning outfield lineup of Verdugo on the left, Bradley Jr. on the center and Suzuki on the right would be stronger defensively than anything the Sox had last season.

A lot has to happen before Boston signs him.

Before Sox fans can dream big, however, MLB and the MLBPA must reach an agreement to end their labor dispute. No such agreement has been reached, but the two sides are said to have made significant progress towards this end this week, according to reports. On top of that, the Red Sox could still face competition for the much-wanted star, including some pushes within their division.

If Boston locks up Suzuki, they’ll have to pay Carp’s “publication” fee in addition to the contract they sign the outfielder with. Essentially, the Sox should send Carp percentages of the earnings from his first contract: 20% of the first $25 million of his contract, 17.5% of his next $25 million and 15% of any remaining money.

If it’s as good as they hope, the wait and extra expense might be worth it.