Reports earlier in the week had Japanese closer Kyuji Fujikawa down to the Cubs and Angels, with the Angels as the frontrunner, but …
According to multiple reports, it is the Cubs who will be signing the 32-year-old reliever to a two-year deal with a variety of options tacked on to the end. According to Ken Rosenthal, the contract breaks down like this:
- Fujikawa gets a $1 million signing bonus, and then salaries of $4 million in 2013 and 2014.
- From there, he has a vesting option in 2015 which kicks in if he finishes a certain number of games. That option could be worth $5.5 million or $6 million, depending on the number of games finished.
- If that option doesn’t vest, the Cubs get a club option for 2015 at $5.5 million with a $500K buyout.
- Thus, it’s a total guarantee of $9.5 million for the two years, which could escalate to as much as $15 million over three years.
Jon Heyman says the total guarantee is $9.2 million, not $9.5 million, for whatever that’s worth. We’ll see the final details shake out over the next day or so.
His addition is a nice one for a beleaguered pen, but you’ve got to figure that it also signals that closer Carlos Marmol is on his way out. The Cubs have already tried – unsuccessfully – to trade him once this offseason, and they’ll undoubtedly keep trying. If the Cubs move Marmol, who is under contract for 2013 for $9.8 million, Fujikawa is obviously the favorite to take over as closer.
Heck, even if Marmol stays, there’s no guarantee that he might not move into a setup role, depending on Fujikawa’s effectiveness.
As I’ve said before, signing Fujikawa, for the Cubs, is not necessarily about signing a 32-year-old closer to a two-year deal because the Cubs expect to win in the next two years. It could simply be about trying to secure an undervalued asset on a favorable contract. Then, if he performs well, he could be dealt at some point in the future, assuming the Cubs aren’t competitive.
UPDATE: I should add, given how some of these things have turned out in the last year, that the Cubs have not confirmed the signing yet. Multiple reporters have, but that’s not a guarantee. That said, this seems pretty buttoned up, given the level of detail on the signing.