RED SOX INSIDER

Tomase: Will Red Sox make a play for Japanese slugger Seiya Suzuki?

RED SOX INSIDER

Let's just get this out of the way -- it's hard to imagine the Red Sox winning the Seiya Suzuki sweepstakes.

Gone are the days when John Henry couldn't write enough zeroes on the check that landed him Daisuke Matsuzaka. Well, technically they were ones, and that $51.111111111 million bid didn't exactly buy him Cy Young, but at least the Red Sox were willing to lead the pack back in 2006. And Matsuzaka, for all his faults, did contribute to a World Series in 2007.

Henry's Red Sox are currently all about bargains, if they spend any money at all, and the posting system doesn't lend itself to falling through the cracks. Suzuki, a Japanese outfielder, is projected to sign a contract in the vicinity of five years and $50 million, and the Red Sox must decide if the 27-year-old slugger justifies the investment.

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Like everyone else in baseball, they've scouted him, and there's a lot to like. The 5-foot-11, 182-pound right fielder just hit .319 with 38 homers for the Hiroshima Carp in Japan's top baseball league. He's a career .315 hitter with three Gold Gloves and four All-Star appearances.

Most enticingly, the former home run derby champion is entering his prime. It also doesn't hurt his cause that countryman Shohei Ohtani was just named MVP of the American League after the most dominant two-way season ever and teams may be even more open to importing talent from across the Pacific.

Suzuki doesn't pitch, and there are questions about whether he'll be able to turn on inside fastballs -- especially in a big-league game built around velocity -- but the tools are all there to make an impact.

 

He'll be posted on Monday and teams have 30 days to reach an agreement or watch him return to Japan. That puts the deadline to sign him at Dec. 22, but it will be extended if there's a lockout on Dec. 2, which is widely anticipated.

Unlike past Japanese stars, Suzuki's posting fee won't be a flat rate, but a percentage of his earnings, starting with 20 percent of his first $25 million, 17.5 percent of his next $25 million, and 15 percent of anything else. If he signs for $50 million, Hiroshima would collect a posting fee of $9.375 million.

Since Chaim Bloom arrived two years ago, the Red Sox haven't come anywhere close to entering a bidding war, let alone winning one.

John Tomase

Since Chaim Bloom arrived two years ago, the Red Sox haven't come anywhere close to entering a bidding war, let alone winning one. The biggest contract Bloom has handed out is a modest two-year, $14 million pact for super utilityman Kiké Hernández last winter.

The Red Sox made one notable move at the trade deadline to acquire Kyle Schwarber, but otherwise avoided big-ticket items, intent on remaining below the luxury tax threshold. More recently, they watched quality right-handers Justin Verlander and Noah Syndergaard sign elsewhere for short-term deals at more than $20 million annually, despite needs in the rotation after the loss of left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez to the Tigers in free agency.

The Red Sox appear content to wait out the market and see what shakes free. There will almost certainly be other clubs more motivated to chase Suzuki, with the Mariners, Rangers, and Giants considered frontrunners.

Maybe the Red Sox surprise us, but it's more likely they follow the same pattern that has emerged under Bloom -- leave the bidding wars to everyone else.