REPORTS: Seiya Suzuki Has Chosen the Chicago Cubs! (UPDATES)

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REPORTS: Seiya Suzuki Has Chosen the Chicago Cubs! (UPDATES)

Chicago Cubs

PLEASE BE CORRECT AND REAL BECAUSE I CANNOT TAKE THE DISAPPOINTMENT RIGHT NOW. (UPDATE: IT IS CORRECT AND REAL!!!)

Reports out of Japan, contrary to the earlier reports about the Padres, now have Japanese slugging outfielder Seiya Suzuki choosing to sign with the Chicago Cubs:

Here’s hoping the reports are correct this time.

The Cubs put on the full court press on Monday night to try to convince Suzuki to choose them, complete with owner Tom Ricketts personally participating in the presentation. The reports out of Japan suggest that Ricketts, Jed Hoyer, and David Ross flew to Los Angeles to make the presentation (obligatory caution when relying on Google translate, but that’s what it seems to be saying).

One report has the contract as five years and about $70 million (plus the posting fee), while the other indicates the deal is five years and $85 million, but I think maybe that’s including the posting fee? We’ll have the full breakdown if and when the deal is confirmed.

In either case, it’s a massive commitment for a player coming over from the NPB, where Suzuki has been one of the best players for years. At 27, he fits just about any window the Cubs try to open up over the next few years, but also could obviously help them be a little more competitive than they currently project to be in 2022. Moreover, if they do in fact land Suzuki, it would seemingly make it all the more imperative to try to bolster the roster further from here.

UPDATE: OK, so here’s one stateside report:

UPDATE 2: And Jon Heyman joins:

UPDATE 3: BREAK OUT THE CHAMPAGNE!!!

As for the differences in contract among all the reports, I’m gonna guess it’s the posting fee (so technically, both 5/$70M and 5/$85M are correct).

UPDATE 4: Well, maybe not:

So that’s nearly $100 million total over five years. Cubs making a HUGE bet on Suzuki (though I’d imagine the inroads into the Japanese market for the Cubs and Marquee are probably a big factor in the willingness to spend).

From one of our previous write-ups on Suzuki:

I would submit that the Cubs make as much sense as any team. They can afford to take a bigger risk on a guy like Suzuki right now, because if he doesn’t immediately pop, it’s not like he alone crushes their playoff hopes. In other words, whereas teams that are trying to make an aggressive push for 2022 might not want to risk dedicating an outfield spot to a guy transitioning to the States, the Cubs would be in a position to take that high-risk, high-upside swing. They obviously have the available cash, too, including – conveniently! – the money saved at the Trade Deadline this year that could theoretically roll right over into a posting fee.

The numbers on Suzuki in Japan:

(via baseball-reference)

The scouting reports will start to get beefed up in the coming weeks as a Suzuki posting process begins, but here’s a couple looks from Baseball America. This one from September:

“The righthanded hitter is in the midst of another outstanding NPB season, with high extra-base hit totals and a strong walk-to-strikeout ratio. He is a five-time NPB all-star who won the Central League batting title in 2019 and boasts a career line of .308/.399/.534 in more than 1,000 games.

Scouts see Suzuki as a potential average hitter, once he adjusts to MLB velocity, with above-average game power and raw power that grades as a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale. His swing is geared for damage with an uppercut bat path, as opposed to the middle-of-the-field or even inside-out hitting approaches favored by many Japanese hitters. Like Senga, Suzuki participated in the Tokyo Olympics and ranked as the No. 6 prospect at the event. He went 3-for-18 (.167) with one home run for gold medal-winning Japan.

Suzuki will stay in right field with good range and an above-average arm. He’s a fair runner who has slowed with age and won’t factor with stolen bases. Suzuki will be 27 next season and in the prime of his career.”

And this one from July, when he was identified as the best non-US prospect bat at the Olympics:

“Suzuki is a five-time NPB all-star and won the Central League batting title in 2019. While many Japanese hitters keep their hands inside and take short, direct paths to the ball, Suzuki takes powerful uppercuts more conducive to the modern MLB game. He has plus-plus raw power and the bat speed, hand-eye coordination and feel for the barrel to be an average hitter once he adjusts to major league velocity, although there is some hesitation whether he will. He is an above-average defender with an above-average arm in right field. Suzuki’s offensive and defensive abilities make him a potential starting outfielder in MLB. He will be free agent after the 2022 season.”

A scout told the LA Times this summer:

““He’s been the best player in Japan the last few years,” said a major league scout, who compared Suzuki to current Dodgers outfielder A.J. Pollock when Pollock was an All-Star with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Suzuki won a batting title two years ago when he batted .335. He’s smacked 25 or more homers in each of the last five years. He’s stolen as many as 25 bases in a season. He’s won four Gold Gloves. And he can throw, his fastball touching 92 mph when he pitched in high school.

“He’s a five-tool guy,” the same scout said.”


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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.