Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported the bidding for Akiyama's services had eclipsed $20 million.
The 31-year-old batted .303 with a .471 slugging percentage, 20 home runs and 62 RBI in 143 games with the Saitama Seibu Lions in 2019.
The Reds have been active this offseason after finishing 75-87.
Acquiring Trevor Bauer in July showed the team was looking to make a move up the standings in 2020, and Cincinnati has since added Mike Moustakas and Wade Miley.
Signing Akiyama is another move to strengthen the Reds offense in preparation for a possible playoff run. The Athletic's C. Trent Rosecrans tweeted the team views him as "someone who can hit atop the order and play all three outfield spots — not solely as a CF."
Eno Sarris of The Athletic looked at Akiyama's numbers and compared him to Adam Eaton, Nick Markakis and Alex Gordon:
"This is fun, because Adam Eaton was mentioned as a comparable player by former big leaguer and current NPB right-hander Mike Bolsinger, and Patrick Newman, who runs NPBTracker, put forth Nick Markakis as a good offensive comparable when I asked.
"One problem with this sort of possible range of outcomes is that the current market is murder on the middle class, and a player who is likely to put up somewhere between a win or two is right in the crosshairs. They've gotten the least money compared to their projected value in the last few years, at least."
Akiyama is a career .301 hitter over nine seasons in Japan. He also averaged a little more than 12 steals per year while getting on base (.376) at a healthy rate.
The Reds already addressed their need to add power with Moustakas, who had 30-plus homers for the second time in his career in 2019. Now, Cincinnati has another solid hitter who—in addition to Joey Votto—should provide Moustakas and Eugenio Suarez with plenty of RBI opportunities.