The Cubs had reportedly been targeting Japanese outfielder Shogo Akiyama and Bruce Levine of 670 The Score confirmed the two sides have talked at the Winter Meetings in San Diego. Even more encouraging, Levine reports that Akiyama “would be content with a deal of two years and around $10 million,” a figure that might fit within the Cubs’ restricted financial parameters.
Even if the 32-year-old is on the back side of his athletic prime, he’s a big-time OBP hitter who bats from the left side and plays competent defense in center. The $5 million average value he’s seeking is the same as in an earlier report, but this one has him looking for one year less. If you’re keeping score at home, that checks off pretty much every box the Cubs need to fill this winter.
If the Cubs are truly out of the market for Nicholas Castellanos and don’t have what it takes to pry Whit Merrifield loose from Kansas City, they might want to jump on Akiyama quickly. Not only would it give them a little more outfield depth and potentially solidify their leadoff spot (Shogo, we go?), but it could even improve their leverage in future trade talks. You know, if they’re seriously engaged in any of those.