The most exciting Japanese star to join the MLB since Shohei Ohtani is heading to the Chicago Cubs. After enduring a posting process delayed by the lockout, outfielder Seiya Suzuki agreed to a five-year, $70 million contract with the Chicago Cubs. according to David Kaplan of NBC Sports Chicago.
A powerful right-handed hitter with a great arm in right field, Suzuki had a large market for his services. The numbers are high on Suzuki, detecting an underlying skill that could produce an impact bat. Doubts over the recent failures of Shogo Akiyama and Yoshi Tsutsugo may even have lowered its price from what it could have been. The ceiling here is high.
Suzuki, 27, has been one of the best hitters in Nippon Professional Baseball for years. Last season, playing with the Hiroshima Carp, he slashed .317/.433/.636 in 132 games with 38 home runs.
A bevy of teams, including the San Diego Padres and Boston Red Sox, had reportedly thrown their hats into the ring for Suzuki. At various times, rumors spread that he had made the decision for him and agreed to a deal.
Earlier this week, he took to Instagram to playfully end any confusion.
Some of those suitors are now able to focus more of their attention on the remaining field class. Kris Bryant and Michael Conforto are the biggest names left out there, while Joc Pederson, Eddie Rosario and others will also be looking for places to land.
Suzuki joins a Cubs team that hit the reset button in July, scrapping the most prominent members of its 2016 World Series core to attract a slew of prospects. Despite acquiring pitchers Marcus Stroman and Wade Miley to bolster a small rotation, they entered Wednesday projected to face the Pittsburgh Pirates for the final spot in the NL Central.
Suzuki won’t change his status on his own, but he puts more weight behind the Cubs’ more immediate ambitions. They figure they’ll move higher up the rankings expected if the Cincinnati Reds continue a takedown that has seen several key contributors traded since the end of the lockout.