After a long meeting with the San Diego Padres (and old friend Yu Darvish), and after reports out of Japan that he’d already chosen to sign with the Padres, the denials came swift and fierce this afternoon. No, Japanese slugger Seiya Suzuki has not decided which team he’s signing with yet.
In faaaaact, hello Cubs:
Source confirms Cubs are expected to meet with Seiya Suzuki and his reps tonight. Cubs have numerous holes to fill and would love to add Suzuki. The 27-year-old outfielder fits short-term goal of trying to compete now & long-term for when Cubs hope young prospects arrive in bigs
— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) March 14, 2022
I would say it’s a pretty good guess that the Cubs are going to TRY to seal the deal tonight, especially if it’s true that Suzuki is otherwise close to choosing the Padres. The Cubs have previously been described as one of the “hottest pursuers” of Suzuki.
The Cubs have actually been known to be in on Suzuki for quite a while now, and although projecting translations from Japan’s highest league to MLB has always been an inexact science, the ZiPS projections for Suzuki look good, and the scouting reports are absolutely glowing. This would be, uh, a really good signing. I’m trying not to get TOO hopeful, but I’ll definitely have my eyes and ears peeled – do you peel your ears? – tonight.
UPDATE: Normally I wouldn’t update with mere confirmations, but I think we should discuss this:
Can confirm the Cubs’s strong interest in Suzuki and scheduled meeting with his camp.
Suzuki, of course, has interest from a lot of teams. As Hoyer said this morning when asked if the Cubs would make a significant addition, never assume “anything gets across the finish line.” https://t.co/silCgqJ7Ll
— Maddie Lee (@maddie_m_lee) March 15, 2022
The Cubs had a meeting scheduled with Seiya Suzuki on Monday, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Chicago.https://t.co/K2A0bcBsd2
— Cubs Talk (@NBCSCubs) March 15, 2022
It is very unusual for lots of confirmations about a Cubs free agent meeting like this to go flying. Very. That COULD be just a product of Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins operating a little differently than Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer did. People found out about the meeting, so the higher ups were happy to confirm it.
Given how secretive the front office usually is, however, I can’t help but wonder if there’s more to it this time around. Some reason why the Cubs want confirmation of the meeting out there? I know the cynics among you will say it’s eyewash so they can later say, “See, we tried!” But, again, that’s not actually something the front office of the last decade has done. They have VERY much tried to hide their meetings and intentions, because – at the front office level – there’s very little upside in having people out there know your business. So why this time are they fine with it? Confidence that it will go well? A desire to show transparency to Suzuki’s camp for some reason?
… or an interest in applying pressure on another free agent or another team? You have to wonder, right? I mean it feels a little ham-handed, but let’s imagine the Cubs also wanted Player X, and this is a nudge. Or let’s imagine the Cubs know some other team out there really wants Suzuki, and the Cubs want to trade with that team, but that team would only pursue the trade if they could land Suzuki (yes, I’m getting reaaaaalll conspiratorial about the Padres right there). I won’t actually go too far with this other than to say it’s absolutely atypical for the Cubs to have multiple confirmations out there about a pursuit of a free agent. They just don’t do it. So there has to be a reason this time.
I think the one thing I will say confidently that this news suggests: the Cubs *DO* think they have a shot at actually landing Suzuki. Doesn’t mean they will, of course. But they think there’s a shot.