The Seattle Mariners, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox are expected to be the "hottest pursuers" of Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki, according to Jon Heyman of the MLB Network.
In November, Jon Morosi of the MLB Network noted the Texas Rangers were believed to be in the running as well, though they've since hit free agency hard, signing Corey Seager (10 years, $325 million), Marcus Semien (seven years, $175 million) and Jon Gray (four years, $56 million) to lucrative deals.
Jon Morosi @jonmorosi
In the Seiya Suzuki market, the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Rangers?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Rangers</a> are seen as one of the most serious suitors, in the opinion of rival executives. Suzuki, the 27-year-old outfielder, is expected to move from NPB to <a href="https://twitter.com/MLB?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MLB</a> this offseason. <a href="https://twitter.com/MLBNetwork?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MLBNetwork</a>
With Suzuki likely to cost a pretty penny, it remains to be seen if the Rangers' spending spree will continue in earnest.
Regardless, Suzuki will have a vibrant market. The 27-year-old and five-time Nippon Professional Baseball All-Star hit .317 with 38 homers, 88 RBI, 77 runs and a 1.069 OPS in 134 games for the Hiroshima Carp last season.
The team posted him in November, leaving him a 30-day window to negotiate with teams. That window was frozen in December when league owners locked out the players.
"I can't stop thinking about which team to pick," he told Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic in January. "I'm going to be honest with you: I'm still very confused. I can't sleep every night because a lot of the teams hit my heart. I still have to give it a lot of thought."
Any team in need of outfield help with the budget to make a splashy signing in free agency will likely be in pursuit. Among the top outfielder free agents remaining unsigned are Nick Castellanos, Kris Bryant (who can also play third base), Michael Conforto, Kyle Schwarber and Andrew McCutchen, among others.
Power-hitting right-fielders are plenty valuable for teams. While Suzuki is unproven at the MLB level, players who post his level of production in Japan tend to translate.
"He is an unbelievable talent," Atlanta Braves pitcher Jay Jackson, who played with Suzuki for three seasons in Japan, said last year of his former teammate. "Even when he was so raw, you could see it: The arm, the quickness that he has, the power that he has, the stroke that he has. His eye was getting better and better and you saw just the plate discipline getting there. If he gets with the coaches over here, with the way they use analytics, I think he'll be good. He'll be really good."