Brian O’Grady To Sign With Saitama Seibu Lions

Free agent outfielder Brian O’Grady appears to have signed a deal with the Saitama Seibu Lions of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league (commonly known as NPB) for the 2022 season, as announced by the club late on November 25th. Financial terms are unknown as of now.

The 29-year old O’Grady has seen brief stints in the majors over the past few years with the Cincinnati Reds (in ’19), Tampa Bay Rays (in ’20), and most recently the San Diego Padres in 2021. He has largely functioned as a bench bat and fourth outfielder during his tenure in the big leagues but certainly appears to be headed for a larger role overseas.

WHAT O’GRADY PROVIDES TO HIS NEW CLUB

Brian O’Grady swings the bat from the left side and has failed to produce anything of note in the major leagues, but his minor league career has been a different story entirely. The Philadelphia, PA native has long been a lock to put up double-digit home run totals while possessing good speed on the base-paths as well.

2019 was O’Grady’s best professional season to date. Spending the vast majority of the season in the Reds’ Triple-A affiliate, the club’s MVP put up career-highs in home runs (28), RBI (77), and doubles (30). His slash-line that year was .280/.359/.550, all at or near his career highs.

VERSATILITY IS KEY

Positional versatility is a key calling-card to O’Grady’s game, as he has significant experience at first base and all three outfield spots as well as a small sample size at third base. That kind of positional flexibility is incredibly valuable in modern-day Major League Baseball. 

2021 saw Brian O’Grady appear in a career-high 32 games, seeing the majority of his time on defense in right field while making at least one appearance at first base, left field, and center field as well.

RITCHIE BATS

One lesser-known fact about the sweet-swinging lefty is that he actually owns his own baseball bat company, Ritchie Bats. A brief description from their website’s “About” section is below:

Established in 2014, the Ritchie Bat Company is committed to providing you with the highest quality custom maple and ash bats at the most affordable prices. When you order a Ritchie bat, you are not only receiving top grade wood, but also a one-of-a-kind bat with customization that is unique to you and you alone.

Looking at the site’s “What the Pros Swing” section, you can see that a multitude of professional players (primarily in the minor leagues) use Ritchie Bats’ products with glowing reviews.

Brian O’Grady will look to capitalize on an opportunity for extended playing time with a club for the first time in his career. Assuming that the contract he signed in Japan is for one season, it’s reasonable to see him making his way back over to the United States for a significant payday as so many others have done before him.