QUESTION: “I want to hear your thoughts on Fukudome. The Reds are looking for a 3rd/4th outfielder, and I don’t know why this guy isn’t signed yet?
It seems like he still gets on-base, is a above-average fielder, and can play all 3 OF spots, right?
Considering they are also dabbling in the Rick Ankiel, Ryan Ludwick, and Juan Pierre pool, Fukudome seems like the best choice.”
- email from Michael P., Indianapolis
ANSWER: You’re right, Mike. I haven’t heard the name Kosuke Fukudome mentioned at all this offseason and I suspect that has a lot to do with his four underachieving years in Chicago and poor finish last season in Cleveland.
Despite a 2008 All Star appearance with the Cubs, Fukudome’s playing time steadily decreased with Chicago in unison with his declining production on both sides of the ball.
While his defensive versatility remains a plus off-the-bench for many NL teams, including Cincinnati, his offense lags far behind, which became increasingly evident down the stretch last season with the Indians.
Although Fukudome does bring a high baseball sense and OBP, he’s neither a good base stealer or power bat, which NL teams covet most from its role players due to the frequent late inning changes to replace its pitchers in the lineup.
And considering the Reds play in Great American Small Park, I presume offensive fire-power off-the-pine would be more of a drawing card than above average OF defense.
However, if the 35-year-old has anything going for him it’s his left-handedness at the dish and his affordability–both of which could fetch him an offer before spring training.
And with several AL teams in search of a DH, Fukudome could land in a situation where he platoons as a DH and fourth outfield option.
The Reds, specifically, appear disinterested in courting Fukudome given the fact they signed Ryan Ludwick to a 1-yr, $2.5M deal earlier this week.
As for where ‘The Fuk’ will end up? I have no idea. But I wouldn’t be surprised if his best offer comes from Japan.
*Have your own baseball question? Email me at email@example.com