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Padres Favorite To Land Fukudome

Despite having shoulder surgery, Japanese outfielder Kosuke Fukudome, 30, will be well sought after this offseason when he becomes a free agent. He can put up good power numbers, is a solid fielder, and could be slotted in the just about any outfield. The Padres nearly signed him out of high school when he was still a shortstop, but opted to stay in Japan. Still their GM, Kevin Towers, when asked if he still had any interest in Fukudome said, "Absolutely." Not only that, but Mike Cameron will be a free agent this off season along with Milton Bradley, so there is room for him. Fukudome has the potential to hit 20 homeruns, with an average around .290. He has drawn comparisons to Hideki Matsui for his power at the plate, ability to get on base, and his cannon in the outfield. The Padres would benefit from his bat in the lineup because of his ability to hit the gaps, especially in clutch situations. The White Sox, Mariners, Cubs, Rangers, Dodgers, Red Sox, and Giants are all known to be interested in acquiring him, but the Padres see him more as a priority signing rather than a fallback behind players like Hunter, Jones, and Rowand. In 2006, he hit .351 with 31 HR and 104 RBI and drew 93 walks.