Former Padres, Rays and Reds first baseman / outfielder Brian O’Grady has signed with Nippon Professional Baseball’s Seibu Lions, according to announcements by both the Lions and O’Grady himself (Twitter link).
O’Grady, 29, became a free agent after being removed from the San Diego squad at the end of the season. The 2014 eight-round pick (Reds) had a 61-record career with the brothers in 2021, often acting as pinch-hitters but also making a handful of starts in the right field. O’Grady beat .157 / .267 / .333 with a pair of homers, three doubles, and eight walks (13.1%).
The limited role wasn’t entirely new to O’Grady, who continued to play with the Reds in 2019 and the Rays in 2020 without ever getting an opportunity of constant playing time. He’s a career .184 / .283 / .388 hitter in 114 Major League record appearances – but those record appearances came over the course of 62 games.
O’Grady reckons he has far more opportunities in Japan, and given his career .284 / .362,551 batting line in 978 triple-A record appearances, there is good reason to believe he will be successful overseas. Regardless of how he fares, he’s likely to be paid a guaranteed salary that dwarfs what he would have earned in another season between Triple-A and the big leagues. A strong season in Japan could position O’Grady for a raise at either the NPB or the KBO, and success in a foreign professional league could also lead him to return to the MLB with a guaranteed contract at some point.