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New report suggests Mariners are among the favorites to sign OF Seiya Suzuki

Don’t ship him up to Boston just yet

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Republic of Korea v Japan - Baseball - Olympics: Day 12 Photo by Koji Watanabe/Getty Images

After a Japanese Yahoo! Sports article made headlines yesterday for seemingly linking Seiya Suzuki to the Red Sox, a new report from Japan’s Nikkan Sports suggests the Mariners are still in the running as one of four front-runner teams: the Mariners, Cubs, Giants, and Padres are all reportedly spots of interest for Suzuki.

The confusion seems to stem from a mis-translated version of the Yahoo! article, which some interpreted to mean the Japanese outfielder already had a deal in place with the Red Sox, leading to questions about tampering during the lockout. While Suzuki is not yet a member of the MLBPA, teams are bound to treat him as such in discussing signing a major-league contract, meaning all negotiating should be on hold until after a new labor agreement is in place.

The translation of the original Yahoo! article seems to imply that “major players” (which I’m assuming is a poor translation of “sources”) had hinted Suzuki was bound for Boston. That one sentence was teased out of the article and made the rounds on social media yesterday, leading many to believe Seiya Suzuki to the Red Sox was a done deal. Red Sox fans were quick to point out Suzuki’s friendship with former Red Sox pitcher Koji Uehara after he appeared on the latter’s podcast, as well as the fact that the Red Sox were, until recently, one of the few MLB teams followed by Suzuki on Instagram (for his part, Suzuki says he has followed the Red Sox on Insta for years, as an admirer of Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts, in order to study videos of their hitting, and was surprised when he suddenly got “yelled at” for following.) The rumor gained enough steam to where it was reported at outlets like NBC Sports that Boston would be Suzuki’s “expected” landing spot.

However, a recent report from Nikkan Sports, a Japanese sports publication that has been around since the ‘40s boasting a circulation of almost two million, suggests that Suzuki to Boston is far from a certainty—in fact, the Red Sox and Yankees aren’t even listed among four potential landing spots for Suzuki. Instead, this report suggests Suzuki is narrowing teams down from the group of interested candidates reported earlier in The Athletic article on his potential landing spots into a final group of 3-4 teams.

Where this gets interesting for Mariners fans—although speculative—is that the article seems to suggest Suzuki will travel to Arizona to tour the team facilities there, specifically those of the Mariners, Padres, Giants, and Cubs. While the other three teams have been connected to Suzuki throughout the process, the Cubs are a surprise addition to the list. Chicago is reeling from their worst season finish since their World Series run and recently underwent a fire sale of the players who helped get them there, but Cubs ownership preaches a speedy return to contention, and they certainly have the payroll space to land the Japanese superstar.

It’s unwise to make the same mistake of reading too much into a Google-translated article that similarly relies on the nebulous words of “several U.S. baseball players” (again, assuming this means US sources), and it seems awfully convenient that Suzuki’s favorite four teams would all train in the same 30-mile radius in the greater Phoenix valley. However, there’s comfort in the fact that nothing seems to be finalized yet, and for a while longer, Mariners fans can continue to dream through this long, dark, locked-out winter about another talented, fun Suzuki roaming the outfield in Seattle.

(And after he gets on that flight to Boston, he can connect right through to Sea-Tac. Logan is a nightmare, anyway.)