3. Shogo Akiyama, Reds outfielder
Sometimes, it just doesn’t work out the way you planned. When the Cincinnati Reds made the decision to sign Shogo Akiyama to a three-year/$21M deal prior to the 2020 season, it looked like the makings of something great. Akiyama had performed very well for the Seibu Lions for years and was ready to make the leap to Major League Baseball.
The left-handed hitting outfielder has had a myriad of things go wrong since his contract signing. Akiyama, more than any other player on the Reds, was probably most affected by the absence of a true spring training and the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
Adjusting from Nippon Professional Baseball to the major leagues is no small feat, and it hasn’t worked out for Shogo Akiyama. Furthermore, Akiyama missed a great deal of time during spring training this year while dealing with a family emergency and a hamstring injury.
Akiyama has yet to show any power since coming state-side. Last season, according to Baseball Savant, Akiyama was in the bottom 5% of the league in average exit velocity and the bottom 2% in barrel-rate. The 33-year-old has yet to hit a home run in the big leagues and plays all his home games in one of the most hitter-friendly ballparks.
Shogo Akiyama plays above-average defense, but paying a rotational outfielder $8M next season is lunacy. Akiyama’s contract, much like Mike Moustakas’, will make it difficult for Cincinnati to find a buyer. However, the Reds cannot afford to allow Akiyama to take up a roster spot next season with so many young, talented players coming up through the minor leagues.