NAHA, OKINAWA PREF. – Seibu Lions outfielder Shogo Akiyama said Tuesday he will file for international free agency in order to pursue a career in the major leagues.
The 31-year-old Akiyama declared his intention at the Japan national team’s training camp in Okinawa ahead of the upcoming Premier12 international baseball tournament, which doubles as a qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
While Akiyama could remain in NPB and negotiate a transfer to another domestic team, he has indicated his highest priority is getting into the majors.
Seibu is prepared to offer the five-time All Star a lucrative multiyear contract should he stay in Japan after exercising his right to file for international free agency, earned for playing nine seasons with the Pacific League team.
Akiyama joined the Lions in 2011 and broke NPB’s single-season hit record with 216 in 2015. He led the league with a .322 batting average in 2017 and helped Seibu win its second straight pennant this year.