Reports: Cubs To Sign Seiya Suzuki – MLB Trade Rumors

Reports: Cubs To Sign Seiya Suzuki – MLB Trade Rumors
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9:20am: Suzuki’s contract is worth $85MM over five years, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, who also notes the inclusion of a full no-trade clause.  That makes for a $14.625MM posting fee, bringing the Cubs’ total expenditure to $99.625MM.  Only Suzuki’s $17MM AAV will count toward the luxury tax.

8:00am: The Cubs have agreed to sign outfielder Seiya Suzuki, according to Sanspo and David Kaplan of ESPN 1000.  Cubs brass, including owner Tom Ricketts, met with Suzuki in person yesterday.  The Cubs will also owe a posting fee to the Hiroshima Carp, Suzuki’s former team.  Suzuki is represented by Wasserman.

Suzuki hit .317/.433/.639 with 38 home runs in 533 plate appearances for the Hiroshima Carp this year.  He’s been one of the best hitters in NPB dating back to 2016, with a career line of .309/.402/.541.  He’s hit at least 25 home runs in each of the last six seasons and is a five-time NPB All-Star.

According to MLBTR’s Steve Adams, “The most bullish opinions we’ve gotten peg Suzuki as an everyday Major League right fielder — a solid defensive player with a strong arm and enough power to hit in the middle of a big league lineup.”  In August, Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times spoke to a Major League scout who compared Suzuki to AJ Pollock, back when Pollock was playing for the Diamondbacks.

Though Suzuki has nine seasons under his belt, he’s still just 27 years old, which is rare for a posted player out of Japan.  Suzuki explained to Hernandez, “I think everyone feels they want to play at the highest stage if they can get the chance.”  Suzuki was only one year short of international free agency, so the Carp were motivated to be compensated for his departure.

In late November, the Carp posted Suzuki for MLB teams, beginning a 30-day window that was interrupted by the sport’s 99-day lockout.  Suzuki was left with 20 days post-lockout to negotiate a deal with an MLB team.  On top of his contract, the Cubs will owe the Carp a posting fee equal to 20% of the contract’s first $25MM, 17.5% of the next $25MM and 15% of any dollars thereafter.  Only Suzuki’s $17MM average annual value will count toward the competitive balance tax, but the Cubs are a good $78MM short of the $230MM base tax threshold including Suzuki.

Suzuki is a strong-armed prototypical right fielder and a five-time NPB Gold Glove winner.  The Cubs still have Jason Heyward under contract for another two years and $44MM, but given Heyward’s struggles at the plate, there’s a good chance Suzuki is taking over his position.  Suzuki may spend most of his five-year tenure playing alongside center fielder Brennen Davis, Baseball America’s 16th-ranked prospect.

The news of the Suzuki signing comes on the heels of Anthony Rizzo’s two-year, $32MM deal with the Yankees.  It’s a fitting contrast and representation of the Cubs’ reboot, as Suzuki is five years younger than Rizzo and the Cubs reportedly once offered Rizzo the same contract before trading him and other stalwarts in July last year.  Cubs fans will be watching many former stars in different uniforms this year, with Javy Baez having signed in Detroit, the Phillies reaching an agreement with Kyle Schwarber, and Kris Bryant expected to sign elsewhere before Opening Day.  The Cubs’ other big splash came before the lockout, the signing of starting pitcher Marcus Stroman to a three-year, $71MM deal.

Interest was widespread in Suzuki.  The Padres, Red Sox, Rangers, Giants, Mariners, Yankees, Blue Jays, Marlins, and Dodgers are among the other teams that were linked to the slugging right fielder.

Pitcher Masahiro Tanaka holds the record for a Japanese player signing in MLB, having landed a seven-year, $155MM deal with the Yankees in January 2014.  On the position player side, Suzuki eclipses the four-year, $48MM deal outfielder Kosuke Fukudome signed with the Cubs in December 2007.  The only position players to have sustained success in MLB out of Japan have been Ichiro SuzukiHideki Matsui, and of course, pitcher/designated hitter Shohei Ohtani.