Who is Seiya Suzuki and why is he one of the most interesting MLB free agents?

·3 min read

While most baseball fans are quite familiar with Carlos Correa, Freddie Freeman, Kris Bryant and the rest of this year's class of free agents, one potential difference-maker may not be a household name just yet.

Outfielder Seiya Suzuki, 27, is a four-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove winner and two-time batting champion in Japan's Central League as a member of the Hiroshima Toyo Carp.

He also helped Japan win the gold medal in baseball at the most recent Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

This past season, Suzuki hit .317 (average), .433 (on-base) and .639 (slugging) with 38 home runs and 88 RBI for Hiroshima before the team allowed him to leave and sign with an MLB team.

Japan's Seiya Suzuki bats during a semifinal game against South Korea at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Japan's Seiya Suzuki bats during a semifinal game against South Korea at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Which MLB tems are interested in signing Seiya Suzuki?

In January, Nikkan Sports reported that four teams -- the Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox -- were all pursuing Suzuki.

More recently, the San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres have also expressed interest. According to Dennis Lin of The Athletic, Suzuki and Padres pitcher Yu Darvish share the same agent.

How tall is Seiya Suzuki?

The outfielder is 5 feet, 11 inches tall and weighs 182 pounds, according to Baseball-Reference.com. (Though other sources, including Prospects Live, have him at a more believable 216 pounds.)

Suzuki packs a punch into his relatively modest frame. In addition to his .315 career average and .415 on-base percentage in the NPB, Suzuki has hit at least 25 home runs in each of his last seven seasons.

How good is Seiya Suzuki defensively?

Those three Gold Gloves don't tell the whole story. He also has a strong and accurate arm in the outfield. He'll likely play right field in the majors.

How does Seiya Suzuki compare to other Japanese hitters who've played in the majors?

First of all, he doesn't possess the raw power that Shohei Ohtani has. But few hitters in the majors do.

Suzuki's greatest strength may be his excellent batting eye. He has routinely posted walk rates that were just about equal to his strikeout rates. Last year with Hiroshima, he walked 87 times and struck out 88 -- both very impressive 16% rates.

And he combines that plate discipline with power, something Yoshi Tsutsugo of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Shogo Akiyama of the Cincinnati Reds have not shown so far in their major league careers.

In terms of both contact rate and power, some major league outfielders who were similar to Suzuki last season include Kyle Tucker, Cedric Mullins, Charlie Blackmon and Juan Soto.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Seiya Suzuki: OF could be a difference-maker among MLB free agents