Shogo Akiyama
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Reds sign Shogo Akiyama to three-year deal

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Earlier today, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported that the Reds signed Japanese outfielder Shogo Akiyama to a three-year contract. Jon Heyman had previously reported that the bidding reached the $20 million threshold, but the total value of the deal hasn’t been confirmed yet.

Akiyama, 31, has nine seasons in the Japan Pacific League under his belt. He has a career .301/.376/.454 triple-slash line along with 116 home runs, 513 RBI, and 112 stolen bases. He has finished each of the past five seasons with an OPS north of .800, thanks in large part to lofty on-base percentages ranging from .385 to .419.

Akiyama mostly played center field in Japan, but is likely to handle one of the corner outfield spots in Cincinnati. The Reds, now very much a threat in the NL Central, have also added Wade Miley and Mike Moustakas along with Akiyama this offseason.

Ex-Angels employee charged in overdose death of Tyler Skaggs

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FORT WORTH, Texas — A former Angels employee has been charged with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl in connection with last year’s overdose death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, prosecutors in Texas announced Friday.

Eric Prescott Kay was arrested in Fort Worth, Texas, and made his first appearance Friday in federal court, according to Erin Nealy Cox, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. Kay was communications director for the Angels.

Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room in the Dallas area July 1, 2019, before the start of what was supposed to be a four-game series against the Texas Rangers. The first game was postponed before the teams played the final three games.

Skaggs died after choking on his vomit with a toxic mix of alcohol and the powerful painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone in his system, a coroner’s report said. Prosecutors accused Kay of providing the fentanyl to Skaggs and others, who were not named.

“Tyler Skaggs’s overdose – coming, as it did, in the midst of an ascendant baseball career – should be a wake-up call: No one is immune from this deadly drug, whether sold as a powder or hidden inside an innocuous-looking tablet,” Nealy Cox said.

If convicted, Kay faces up to 20 years in prison. Federal court records do not list an attorney representing him, and an attorney who previously spoke on his behalf did not immediately return a message seeking comment.