4. Will the Reds finally say goodbye to Shogo Akiyama?
Yes, I know that Shogo Akiyama is under contract for $8M this season, but I don't care. If the Cincinnati Reds were to commit to the 33-year-old as the team's everyday left fielder and allow him consistent at-bats, I can understand keeping him. But after reportedly signing Tommy Pham to a one-year/$7.5M deal, the writing is on the wall.
Sure, the Reds could hang onto Akiyama because they don't want to pay $8M for a player who's no longer on the team, but if Shogo is little more than defensive replacement, it's not as if he's going to provide value in the first place.
I'll be the first one to admit that Akiyama hasn't received a fair shake since coming to the United States. The COVID-19 pandemic shut down spring training and eliminated nearly any chance Akiyama had to adjust to the speed of the game. Last spring, his wife was involved in an accident that required his presence, and once he returned to Goodyear, a hamstring injury put him on the shelf.
I just don't see this Reds roster allowing Shogo Akiyama the opportunity he'll need to prove that he can make it in the big leagues. The outfield is already set with Pham, Tyler Naquin, and Nick Senzel. Even if injury befalls one or more of the starting outfielders, you have to assume that Jake Fraley and even TJ Friedl will get playing time over Akiyama. Shogo's time is running out.