Two of the Other Serious Seiya Suzuki Pursuers Make a Lot of Sense: Giants and Rays

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Two of the Other Serious Seiya Suzuki Pursuers Make a Lot of Sense: Giants and Rays

Chicago Cubs

Now that you’ve got an afternoon without Cubs baseball, consider a couple interesting reads on two other teams that really wanted Seiya Suzuki, but obviously did not land him. Interestingly, the teams are a couple that the current Cubs brass has clearly tried to emulate in a number of ways: the Tampa Bay Rays and the San Francisco Giants. Clearly, the clubs have some overlaps in player evaluation.

According to Jon Heyman, who got into a variety of rumors over at his new gig with the New York Post, the Tampa Bay Rays were a serious bidder for Suzuki, unbeknownst to much of the market at the time. I don’t recall hearing them mentioned much, if at all, in connection to Suzuki. It makes sense, though, given the unique opportunity to land an impact star on a deal that could ultimately prove to be a value. (I also like that the Rays had evaluated Suzuki as strongly as the Cubs – the Rays tend to be pretty good at it.)

Heyman reports that the Rays’ bid was close to – but below – the Cubs’ ultimate $85 million offer over five years (plus the $15ish million posting fee).

Even if the Rays’ offer had been better, though, it might not have mattered, according to Andrew Baggarly’s report at The Athletic. There, he writes about the Giants’ pursuit of Suzuki, which was going to feature a trip to San Francisco … until Suzuki instead decided to go visit Chicago after his now-famous meeting with the Cubs during Spring Training.

From the article:

“They were in his final four and presented extremely well,” Wolfe said via text message. “Our next step was to fly to San Francisco, see the city, then go meet Farhan (Zaidi) and (Gabe Kapler) in Arizona. But the Cubs were always one of the top preferred choices, and after the meeting, he wanted to go visit Chicago.” …

There wasn’t an opportunity to counter the Cubs’ offer, and it probably wouldn’t have mattered.

Suzuki and his wife, Airi, were choosing a city and a living situation as much as a team. And there were reasons for them to wonder if San Francisco would be a good fit. When San Francisco Mayor London Breed declared a state of emergency Dec. 17 in response to the wave of drug overdoses and homelessness in the Tenderloin, news of the announcement was widely reported in Japan.

As Suzuki researched major-league cities, he learned that while some Giants players live in San Francisco, many others including Crawford, Buster Posey and Brandon Belt chose to live in suburban environments like Lafayette and Danville. Renting a 3,000 square foot house in the suburbs wasn’t a living situation that appealed to Suzuki, who grew up in Arakawa City, a municipal district of Tokyo. He and his wife were accustomed to the energy of urban living — impeccably clean, safe and crime-free urban living. When they visited Michigan Ave. and toured the high rises on Chicago’s Gold Coast, it reminded them of Tokyo, in some respects.

If they hadn’t connected so well with Chicago, then their next visit would have been to San Francisco.

In other words, it seems Suzuki’s camp was already pretty heavy on the Cubs by the time negotiations picked up, and the article seems to suggest that the trip to Chicago sealed the deal. It’s a good long read on Suzuki’s arrival in MLB, selection of the Cubs, and what might have otherwise been.


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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.