Wednesday morning kicked off in Cincinnati with the Reds introducing their newest outfielder Shogo Akiyama to the local media at a press conference.

“The fact that there’s never been a Japanese player here in Cincinnati was something that was very attractive. And the fact that the presentation material was very inspiring, it made me want to play here,” said Shogo Akiyama. “A lot of teams were involved (in the process of free agency). The Reds were the first team that made an offer to me. I was inspired by their passion to how much they wanted me.”

While he’s the first Japanese born player to sign with the Cincinnati Reds, he’s not the first player to make the transition to the United States. But as we noted two weeks ago the number of hitters that have come over in the last decade is rather small – just four position players have come over and gotten more than 200 plate appearances – and only Nori Aoki has gotten more than 800. It’s not surprising that he was one of the players that Akiyama reached out to.

“(Nori) Aoki was the first person that I spoke to and he gave me a lot of advice as far as how things are and approach things here. And I’ve always been inspired to be like Ichiro, so those two players were the players that I got advice from,” said Akiyama when asked about others that he sought advice from about coming to the Major Leagues from Japan.

With a very crowded outfield, at least as currently constructed, the question of where Shogo Akiyama will play is a question that many had. He spent a majority of his time in center field while playing in Japan, but did see some limited action in both corners during his career, too.

“As far as a position is concerned, wherever the team needs me to play is what I’ll do. In Japan I played center field, but wherever the Reds feel like I can contribute, that’s what I’ll do,” said the outfielder about where he expects to play defensively.

Nick Martini designated for assignment

With the signing of Shogo Akiyama being official, the Cincinnati Reds needed to create a spot on the 40-man roster for him. That led to the organization designating outfielder Nick Martini for assignment. He played for the Oakland and San Diego franchises in Triple-A (Oakland) and the Major Leagues in 2019. The Reds picked him up off of waivers on November 25th from the Padres.

23 Responses

  1. Rich

    I watched the press conference and by all accounts, I felt that the Reds management did a very nice job in welcoming him. I also thought that it was a nice touch from Trent Rosecrans from the Athletic to start his interview off with Shogo by speaking to him in Japanese. That was classy!

    • Doug Gray

      I feel very confident that Trent is the only one who knows Japanese among the American press that was in attendance (he went to high school in Japan).

      • Rich

        Doug,

        That is some great insight on Trent. I did notice, how Shogo smiled when Trent did his introduction in Japanese.

        Personally, if I was going to introduce myself to Shogo – I would try to learn a little Japanese to make him feel welcomed and set a good tone with him too.

        Thank you again for the insight!

        Rich

      • Amarillo

        Rich, if you ever find yourself in the outfield seats, Ganbatte is Japanese for good luck! or more literally, work hard! Pronounced Gone Bot Tay.

  2. vegastypo

    David Bell did an interview with one of the MLB Network morning shows, and Chris Russo failed to ask the one question that I think we’re all curious about: Are the Reds still in shopping mode ??????????

    • David

      There is no bullpen that is quite numerous enough for David Bell. So if you asked him that just before Opening Day, he would probably still say “yes!”.

  3. Bill

    Reds have clearly filled some big holes with signing Moustakis, Miley, and Akiyama along with some others.
    It seems like another reliable OF’er, a SS, and a couple of relief pitchers still remain. Lindor would be ?. Mancini would be ?. Joe Jiminezand Jarlin Garcia would be ?, as trades. Tony Sipp, Jerry Blevins and Alex Wood remain available as FAs.

  4. RedNat

    the reds have made good moves this off season no doubt but losing out on Gregorius and Grandal still really hurts and I am afraid may cost them the division. not sure if we can win consistently enough with Barnhart and Galvis bating 7 and 8.

    • JoshG

      I’m expecting .275/.350/.425 from Barnhart.. … Grandal was the only possible upgrade there.
      I’d love to have Lindor .. or Story or Seager or Correa… but I think galvis is getting a little bit of a bad rap here … he is a solid defense first switch hitter with some pop … serviceable as a number 8 hitter

      • Redsvol

        how in the world can you expect that performance line from Barnhart this year? He’s come nowhere close to that recently and catchers don’t age well.

        I’m with you on Lindor – the others all have serious flaws (check out the home/road splits on Story). If we can’t get Lindor, We’ll be fine with Galvis until the trade deadline. I’m sure they will bring someone in for bench.

      • Chris Holbert

        Nice Barnhart expectation, the reality is more like .240/.325/.375

      • JoshG

        Tucker Barnhart
        2019
        2nd Half
        .273 avg, .367 OBP, .448 Slugging .815 OPS
        116 ops+ if that is a stat you like

  5. Sliotar

    Galvis “gets a bad rap” … because he stinks, especially for a team “all in” and “getting the hitting.”

    All metrics are flawed to some degree, but Galvis hasn’t produced 2.0 WAR since 2016 and his highest wRC+ ever is 89 …. so, not league average in the last 3 years.

    Age 31 season in 2020 and “meh” fielding (that’s being kind).

    Hard to believe this is how the Reds will lineup at SS on Opening Day, but the clock is ticking on an upgrade via a trade.

    We should form a pool on the first “Iglesias would have gotten to that” post.

    • RedNat

      If we can’t upgrade the shortstop position via trade I say we put Senzel at shortstop and ride and die with him. He would give us the best chance to win

    • Tom

      According to the new defensive data from the stat cast system, Galvis is an elite defender equal to Iglesias. He’s 12 outs above average as is Iglesias. Gregorious rates as one of the worst SS defensively.

      I’d still like to see a trade for 5 years of Willy Adames, SS for the Rays.

    • JoshG

      Galvis was 15th among SS in OPS last year 22nd (1.6) in WAR (wow Seimen was the best at 8.1 didn’t realize that) Galvis was 3rd best in fielding percentage among SS last year
      Iglesias 16th OPS, 24th (1.5) WAR

      so adding lindor who was 8th in OPS and 6th (4.7) in WAR would be a big help,
      I know he’d be a one year rental.. but.. what would it take to get Seimen

      • JoshG

        so.. what I was trying to say is … Galvis Is better than Meh on Defense
        so I’d love to see an offensive upgrade at the position but they could do a lot worse too

    • JoshG

      Among the shortstops across baseball in the last three seasons not many rate out better than the +30 that Galvis has. Nick Ahmed leads the way at the position with an absurd +51. Andrelton Simmons has a +43 rating over the last three seasons. Francisco Lindor comes in at +31. That’s it.

  6. Tim Erwin

    Well I thinks it’s a good add,I seriously hope that the front office is going to get another big piece for the offense,or where just going to be another 500 ball club this year again. Personally I am so tired of there Reds being ok with mediocrity,Its time to do something big and win some game and at least make a playoff push trade away prospects I don’t care about 3 years from now I want to see the Reds back in the hunt for October, Ty all for listening another disgruntled Reds fan Tim

  7. Ed

    MLB Trade Rumors links to a piece they found, basically indicating that clubs are inquiring about Lindor, but the Indians don’t want to move him. It goes further, saying the Indians feel obligated to answer these inquiries, even though they aren’t soliciting them…. I imagine some of this could be blowing smoke, trying and get better offers. But at face value- Lindor doesn’t look a plausible solution. Semien also- the A’s are a great ball club, and I don’t see them just dealing a killer short stop at this point.

    That said- I totally could imagine Arenado being dealt to a rival in the NL Central. I’d rather see him land with the Cubs, because they seem to be going through some organizational growing pains. If he lands with the Cardinals and the Reds haven’t improved at SS or in the OF, it sucks to imagine this, but the window is closing. So many great pitchers and interesting players, but I dunno. I don’t think we’re quite ready as the line up stands, and I’m glad there’s time before spring training begins. Ahem… do something big Reds!

  8. Big Ed

    I think a realistic option at SS will be Andrelton Simmons at the trade deadline, if the Angels are out of it. They are behind the Astros and Athletics in their own division, and have mediocre pitching at best, so Simmons is likely to be available.

    Simmons would be a rental, because he is a free agent after the season. Almost all of the other teams that expect to contend already are set at shortstop, except maybe the Braves, so there may not be much of a bidding war unless there is an injury. The Angels do not have a SS ready, but they would also could resign him in free agency.

    Simmons started off well last year, but got hurt missed a lot of the time last year and wasn’t fully healthy. His 2017 and 2018 bWAR was 7.0 and 6.2.