Monday, the Reds announced they’ve signed center fielder Shogo Akiyama to a three-year, $21 million deal.
OFFICIAL: The Reds have signed free agent OF Shogo Akiyama to a 3-year, $21-million contract through the 2022 season! 🇯🇵 pic.twitter.com/wAVfhGsVfY— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) January 6, 2020
General manager Jed Hoyer acknowledged the Cubs met with Akiyama during the Winter Meetings, though he admitted they weren’t the only team interested. Besides the Reds, the Rays and Diamondbacks also met with the 31-year-old.
"Yeah, we met with him,” Hoyer said in December. “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 is unproven as a big-leaguer but had a successful nine-year run in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball. He holds a career .301/.376/.454 slash line and hit .303 with a .392 on-base percentage in 2019.
For the Cubs, Akiyama would have been another center field option to go along with Ian Happ and Albert Almora Jr. He also would have been a true leadoff candidate for the Cubs — an area of need — though likely not as an everyday option.
The Cubs’ tight budget has been discussed ad nauseum this winter. They're trying to stay under MLB's $208 million luxury tax threshold and therefore have been limited in the free agent market this winter.
A three-year deal for Akiyama is semi-risky, considering his lack of big-league experience. However, $7 million annually isn’t a tremendous financial commitment. Perhaps the Cubs weren't comfortable offering that many years and/or dollars, but their admitted meeting shows they were interested in Akiyama.
Instead, he goes to a division rival in the Reds, who have made a number of impact moves this winter to improve following a 75-win 2019 season.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Chicago Cubs easily on your device.