Japanese star Seiya Suzuki could end up in the Bronx.
The Yankees are among a group of teams that have been Suzuki's "most aggressive pursuers," according to a report from Boston Sports Journal’s Sean McAdams.
The Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays have also been active in the Suzuki sweepstakes, per McAdams.
Suzuki is expected to receive a substantial contract from a big-league club this offseason, coming over after nine seasons in Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball. Playing for the Hiroshima Carp, Suzuki hit .315 with 182 home runs, 562 RBI and a .985 OPS over 902 career games, dating back to 2013.
The 27-year-old is primarily an outfielder, but has experience at shortstop and third base as well.
Suzuki must wait until the conclusion of Major League Baseball's lockout to sign with an MLB team.
Earlier in the offseason, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman mentioned New York would monitor the center field market, possibly seeking an upgrade at the position.
With top free agent Starling Marte already off the board (after signing with the Mets), Suzuki is one of the better options remaining at the position. That is, unless the Yankees assemble an irresistible package of big leaguers and prospects to trade for an outfielder like Bryan Reynolds or Cedric Mullins.
Suzuki's versatility could fit right in with the Yankees, helping to provide some depth while adding another solid, right-handed hitter to New York's high-octane lineup. In 2021, Suzuki had a career year for Hiroshima, slashing .317/.433/.639 with 38 home runs, 88 RBI, 77 runs scored, 27 doubles and nine stolen bases.
If New York doesn't feel Suzuki is capable of playing center field—taking over for Aaron Hicks—they could slide Joey Gallo over and put the Japanese slugger in left. Aaron Judge also proved in 2021 that he's capable of playing center in a pinch, freeing up a corner outfield slot for Giancarlo Stanton to vacate the designated hitter spot.
Hicks missed the majority of this past season with a wrist injury, and has been injured quite a bit since signing a seven-year deal to stay in pinstripes. The switch-hitting outfielder is hitting .206 with one homer and six strikeouts over nine games in the Dominican Winter League as of Monday afternoon.
Only time will tell where Suzuki sits on New York's offseason priority list. The Yankees must make a move to address the shortstop position this winter—either signing a top-tier free agent or adding a stopgap—and could be inclined to seek out starting pitching as well.
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