The Cincinnati Reds have announced that they have officially released outfielder Shogo Akiyama. Several days ago the team informed Akiyama that he was not going to make the opening day roster. He had a clause in his contract that he could refuse an assignment to the minor leagues and he was going to take time to determine if he would accept an assignment to the minors or if he would go in a different direction. It would seem that a different direction was the choice that he made. Cincinnati will still owe him his $8,000,000 salary for 2022.

The stay in Cincinnati could not have gone worse for Shogo Akiyama. In his first big league season he was introduced to Major League Baseball during a worldwide pandemic that led to two different versions of spring training and then empty ballparks once the season did begin. He hit .196 in the first 31 games of the year, but rebounded well by hitting .318 in September over a 23 game stretch to finish the year.

In the 2021 season the outfielder experienced a terrifying personal situation in which his wife was hospitalized after a tree fell on her while she was walking in the park. On top of that he continued to struggle at the plate. During the season he failed to put up an OPS of .600 in a single month with the exception of September when he managed all of nine plate appearances.

After hitting 25, 24, and 20 home runs in his final three seasons while playing for Seibu in Japan, Shogo Akiyama showed absolutely no power in his big league career. Over 364 plate appearances he slugged .274 without a home run to his name. He managed to hit just 14 doubles and one triple, while posting a .224/.320/.274 triple-slash line.

The outfielder will be 34-years-old in less than two weeks. Where his future lies isn’t yet known, but given his struggles in Major League Baseball it seems like the best move would be returning to Japan to resume his career.

Andrew Knapp also released

An hour prior to the release of Akiyama, the Cincinnati Reds also released catcher Andrew Knapp.

31 Responses

  1. SteveO

    To me, the Reds could have worked out a deal with a Japanese club earlier in the preseason. They could’ve figured out what his value was salary wise and then just paid the balance of the 8M. I’m sure he’s at least worth 1M and would’ve been paid at least that by the Japanese club. Even if the Reds could’ve saved 1M, that covers the salary for Moran. Inefficient handling of the situation by Reds management.

    • JB

      Maybe they did and was denied? I know about as much as you do on this. Let’s at least give the Reds front office credit for dropping him and eating the contract.

    • BK

      I’ve seen this suggested previously, but I don’t know that an MLB team has the right to trade a player to another league as you are suggesting.

    • Chris

      That sounds good, but I’m not sure the Reds have any control over that. Shogo will be able to pick and choose what Japanese club he wants to play for, of the suitors. A trade to a team would have been so limited, that the Reds would have had no control/leverage.


      never really got a chance. Covid year, injury, and wife health issue. Reds never used him right. I remember a couple of games where he had a couple of hits and then road the bench for several games. Wish him well. Moran should be gone.

  2. RedsGettingBetter

    it should have been very difficult to find a trade for Akiyama due to his hitting struggles … the only chance was watching him in spring training and wait if he could wake up but not even he did it. Bye bye Shogo, Could we say that his signing was a failure? Some experts said the conversion from NPB to MLB not always was easy..Dick Williams took his chances and had no success…

    • Greenfield Red

      When you consider the dead money other teams are paying and will pay in the future, the Reds have to be one of the best at avoiding the issue. Still, it will happen sometimes.

  3. MK

    I think the Reds did Shogo a disservice by not starting him in the minors and then after not, making him a very part time player.iris a difficult role in addition to all the other adjustments he had to make. Marketing billed him better than he was as well.

  4. Tom Mitsoff

    Any team that signs free agents is taking a financial risk. No matter the sport, there will be free-agent disappointments and even at times complete washouts. Dick Williams took a risk that seemed reasonable at the time. Akiyama was excellent defensively but just couldn’t adjust to the velocity in the majors.

    Knowing what we know about the Reds front office, it is frankly surprising that they were willing to eat the remaining $8 million. Gives me a bit of hope that when they say they are trying to win, perhaps they mean it — at least in their own minds.

    • LuciusRuber

      This feels like Bob’s cumb of a concession to the fans. If he really wanted to win, we would have seen it by now

  5. LDS

    Cincinnati was never the place for him. There are teams where I suspect he could have thrived. Looking at the Reds development over the last few years, guys who succeed, eg India are far less common than those who fail. It’s systemic.

    • MBS

      That’s baseball more fail than succeed.

    • Redsvol

      last few years? Jesse Winker is a very productive MLB player. India and Stephenson were very impressive rookies last year. Nick Senzel had a very good minors track record and has just not been healthy at the MLB level. Jose Barerro looks like a future star and has shown excellent skills and health in his brief minor league career. These are all guys drafted and developed by the Reds over the last few years. Not to mention Friedl, Lopez, and Koloszvary knocking on the door to contribute later this year. I know no-one has any faith in Aquino but fact is he is on an active major league roster.

      Shogo came to Reds as a free agent. There isn’t much development going to happen at the major league level for a then 31 year old japanese league player.

      • LDS

        Winker is productive against RH’ers. And injury prone. India and Stephenson have done decently thus far. But given that the Reds have frequently had favorable draft positions, where is their J-Rod, their Tatis, et. al. I think the Reds management, scouting, and development staffs are underperformers. Maybe they’ll fool me this year but 72-73 games as many are forecasting is probably the best we can expect.

    • greenmtred

      Where would he have thrived? He was already in his 30s when they signed him, and it seems that his problem was MLB pitching; he couldn’t adjust to the velocity. Maybe careful grooming in the minors could have helped, but he didn’t really have much time for that, given his age. I think, also, that having more prospects fail than not is the nature of the game–happens to every team.

  6. Mark Moore

    Wish him all the best. At least he has $8M no matter what. That should help ease the pain of it all.

  7. Still a Red

    Yes, too bad. I was hoping maybe he could pull off an Ichiro Suzuki kinda career here…spray hitter to all fields, steal bases, etc. Oh well.

  8. DaveCT

    In all fairness to Shogo, beginning his career in the US during the pandemic, and including a terrible incident with his wife as well as the hamstring injury, and the Reds management of his playing time, I’m sure his time wasn’t anywhere close to satisfactory for him.

    In fairness to the Reds, the miscalculation of Shogo’s hitting, especially his power, combines with the massive miscalculation on Alfredo Rodriguez’ hitting, where we were the one and only team that thought he’d hit, to be a pretty big failure in scouting. Between the two costs of this failure, that’s about 35 million that could’ve been allocated elsewhere.

    • JayTheRed

      What you’re not admitting though is that other teams have these same failures from time to time. It’s a big part of baseball. Superstars don’t just show up every draft. There is some luck involved. Unfortunately, there is more bad luck with players than good luck.

    • greenmtred

      I don’t know if this thought applies to Shogo–probably not–but Alf Rod may represent the same thinking that led to, first, Pokey Reese and then to Billy Hamilton, both of whom I like, but neither of whom could, in the end, hit: Maybe somebody was intrigued with their potential in other facets of the game and was willing to gamble that they’d hit enough.

  9. Eric the Red

    I hate to dump on any one individual, but I hope that whoever was handling our Asia/Pacific scouting has been offered a job doing something else.

  10. Kevin Patrick

    Akiyama had wonderful fielding technique in the outfield. Whatever he lacked in his time with the Reds at the plate, he was wonderful to watch play the field. I knew he would be a pest at the plate at the least…I so wanted him to make Cincinnati his. We all probably have or had our favorite underachieving for some bizarre sentimental reason. He was one of mine…this from a guy who’s favorite all time Red is Aaron Harang.

  11. Grand Salami

    Doug, I recall that you (like myself) was so enanmoured by this signing. Shogo represented an OBP threat and solid defensive player in an offense first OF. We could not have been more wrong.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      Don’t forget that he was a Gold Glove runner up his first year. He was tremendous defensively, but just couldn’t hit.

    • BK

      I thought he was a good signing, too–relatively low risk from a cost perspective and his skill set (high OBP, good defense fit the Red’s needs). Several other teams showed interest as well. Unfortunately, all free agent signings don’t work out. Good on the front office for moving on when the fit no longer matched.

  12. AMDG

    It seems like a lot of players have about a 0.070~0.090 delta in their batting average between the MLB and Nippon. And the power #’s drop as well, but usually not as drastically as the average.

    So, a reasonable expectation would have been that he would hit perhaps 0.240 with 10~15 HR’s and defensively manage CF.

    Since the Reds were committed to shoving Senzel into CF full time and had Winker in LF, $8M seemed a bit high for a mediocre bat who would be nothing more than a platoon/backup in LF and CF.

    When Shogo came stateside, he hit a little worse than expected and the power totally disappeared, making that bad contract look even worse.

  13. Votto4life

    I’m sorry it didn’t work out. He seemed like a pretty nice guy.