The Reds announced this afternoon they’ve released outfielder Shogo Akiyama. It had seemed likely Akiyama would be released when the club informed him over the weekend he wouldn’t break camp on the active roster, as his contract afforded him the right to refuse any minor league assignments.
The move closes the book on a disappointing tenure in Cincinnati. Akiyama signed a three-year, $21MM deal over the 2019-20 offseason. Making the jump from Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball to MLB during the 2020 season was no doubt challenging, as the typical challenges of the new environment were exacerbated by the shortened schedule and pandemic protocols. Nevertheless, the Reds certainly expected better than the .224/.320/.274 line Akiyama posted in 366 plate appearances over the past two years.
Due $8MM in 2022 under the terms of that contract, Akiyama is a lock to clear release waivers. Cincinnati will remain on the hook for that money, minus the league minimum salary if the 33-year-old catches on with another MLB team as a free agent. From the Reds perspective, the release was about reallocating Akiyama’s spot on the active and 40-man rosters.
The Reds don’t have to officially make a call on their Opening Day roster until Thursday, but C. Trent Rosecrans of the Athletic tweet the club is planning to select three non-roster invitees to the big league club. Infielder/outfielder Brandon Drurycatch Aramis Garcia and reliever Buck Farmer are all expected to break camp.
It would be the eighth consecutive season with some MLB time for Drury. The right-handed hitting utilityman had a couple decent seasons early in his career with the Diamondbacks but has only eclipsed 90 plate appearances once in the past four years. His last extended run in the majors — 120 games with the 2019 Blue Jays — resulted in only a .218/.262/.380 slash, but Drury was alright in a bench capacity with the Mets last year.
García is expected to join the big league club as the backup to Tyler Stephenson. The 29-year-old backstop has suited up with the Giants and A’s in recent years. Over parts of three big league seasons, he’s a .218/.256/.373 hitter. Garcia owns a more impressive .268/.333/.448 line at Triple-A. He seemingly beat out fellow non-roster invitee Andrew Knapp for the backup catching job. Rosecrans tweet that Knapp has been granted his release after being informed he wouldn’t break camp.
More to come.