Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Cubs sign Seiya Suzuki: Japanese slugger gets five-year, $85 million deal with Chicago


The Chicago Cubs have agreed to terms with Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki, according to David Kaplan of ESPN 1000. ESPN Jeff Passan reports that it’s a five-year deal worth $85 million. Suzuki’s 30-day negotiating window had opened in November, when he was “posted” by the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, his Nippon Professional Baseball league team. Major League Baseball’s owner-imposed lockout paused that window, however, leading to a later-than-expected resolution.

Suzuki, 27, finished his NPB career with a slash line of .309/.402/.541, as well as 189 home runs and 102 stolen bases. This past year, he batted .317/.433/.636 with 38 home runs and nine steals. 

Evaluators regard Suzuki as a well-rounded player. He has impressive raw power and feel for the strike zone, and he has a big arm that should make him an asset in right field. CBS Sports wrote about Suzuki’s ball-tracking data and how it stacked up to comparable MLB hitters earlier in the year. Here’s part of the takeaway:

That shouldn’t come as a surprise based on what we’ve established about Suzuki: he hits the ball hard; he makes a good amount of contact; he seldom swings at balls; and he has an optimized launch angle. If you were building the ideal hitter from scratch, you’d make a point of including all of those qualities before you sent them to the dish.

Suzuki is the Cubs’ second big addition of the offseason, alongside starting pitcher Marcus Stroman. He’s likely to take over in right field on a full time basis, usurping Jason Heyward.

Suzuki will attempt to end a recent trend of Japanese hitters disappointing upon their arrival to the majors. Shogo Akiyama (Cincinnati Reds) and Yoshi Tsutsugo (Pittsburgh Pirates) have each struggled relative to expectations during their time in the United States. Two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani, of the Los Angeles Angels, is the last Japanese position player to play up to forecasts in MLB.

Suzuki will get his chance to end that drought — and now we know which team’s uniform he’ll be wearing during his attempt. 

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