The Cubs have talked with Japanese free agent outfielder Shogo Akiyama, general manager Jed Hoyer acknowledged Thursday. He also admitted the Cubs aren't the only team that has done so.
"Yeah, we met with him,” Hoyer said in San Diego. “Listen, a lot of teams were involved. Obviously he's a very good player and he's gonna have a good role on a major-league team this year, but I can't comment beyond that."
Akiyama would help the Cubs address their search for upgraded production from center field and the leadoff spot. The 31-year-old holds a career .376 on-base percentage in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball. He hit .303 with a .392 OBP with the Saitama Seibu Lions last season.
Five Cubs center fielders combined to hit .232 with a .305 OBP in 2019, 20th in MLB. Only the team’s second base production was worse. Meanwhile, 11 Cubs leadoff men combined for the worst average (.212) and OBP (.294) in MLB out of that spot.
Akiyama has also met with the Diamondbacks, Rays and Reds and is looking for a two-year deal worth between $8-10 million total, according to WSCR’s Bruce Levine. That could be in the budget-conscious Cubs’ price range, but they'll leave the Winter Meetings having only made a minor move via the Rule 5 Draft.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Cubs games easily on your device.