Former Reds outfielder Shogo Akiyama returning to Japan, Akiyama himself tells Japanese media (link in English via the Japan Times). A report from The Manichi in Japan suggests that Akiyama’s former team, the Seibu Lions, may have an offer for him.
Originally signed by the Reds to a three-year, $21 million contract for the 2020 season, Akiyama was never able to replicate the star-level performance he showed in a nine-year Nippon Professional Baseball career with the Lions. The now 34-year-old outfielder made just 366 plate appearances with Cincinnati and posted a mind-blowing .224/.320/.274 batting line — a far cry from the brilliant .301/.376/.454 batting line he posted nine years with his former Seibu- Club.
The Reds fired Akiyama in the middle of the third and final season of that contract, and he quickly landed a minor league deal with the Padres. However, Akiyama recently canceled that contract and he tells Japanese media that his agent has informed him that there are no offers from big league teams. Akiyama didn’t specify if that meant no major league offers or no offers at all, but given that he’s hitting just .343/.378/.529 in 16 games with three homers, two doubles, a triple and a Few steals hit the Padres’ Triple-A affiliate in El Paso, it wouldn’t be a surprise if there had been other chances in the minor leagues.
It remains to be seen whether Akiyama will ultimately return to the Lions, sign with another team in NPB, or simply take the rest of the year off. However, his return and admission of a lack of MLB interest appear to have closed the door on a short-term return to North American ball. He’s only recently turned 34, however, so Akiyama should have other opportunities to contribute to an impressive collection of awards in Japan, where he’s a six-time Gold Glove winner and five-time NPB All-Star.