Feel free to take all of this with as much salt as you like, but a recent report from Nikkan Sports in Japan suggests outfielder Seiya Suzuki has the Cubs among his four finalists. Though there hasn’t been much information due to the lockout, Suzuki already held a whirlwind series of meetings with at least eight teams prior to December 2 and has made it clear that he’s willing to wait on MLB to figure things out.
In addition to his fit on the roster, he said things like culture and environment — particularly food — will play a role in his decision, which certainly puts Chicago in a good spot.
Before we get to the latest, I do want to note that this is the second time we’ve seen Suzuki connected to the Cubs in a report out of Japan. The first of those reports actually cited Cubs Insider, although it’s possible that was taken out of context in regard to an estimated salary figure that we presented as nothing more than an example. Even so, it feels like there might be a little more credence to the connection based on the latest info.
Per the report, Suzuki “is expected to have 3-4 teams in the final round as a result of careful narrowing down after negotiations in the first round.” The Cubs, Mariners, Giants, and Padres are expected to make that cut, with the Red Sox and Yankees falling out due at least in part to the fact that their spring training facilities are in Florida.
There’s cause for skepticism with the Cubs being the only team among the favorites not located on the West Coast, but you could flip that and say it offers even more reason to believe they’ve got a strong case. The outfield situation in Chicago is anything but solidified and Suzuki would provide a right-handed bat with good contact and decent pop, something the Cubs currently lack in that position group.
Again, this is all very much in flux due to the ongoing labor negotiations and the nature of the report in question. Once the lockout ends, however, we can expect to see this situation reach a fairly rapid conclusion as Suzuki seeks to get settled with his new team.
Update: Another report from Daily Japan directly contradicts the information above, stating that multiple people believe “Suzuki is Red Sox” and that a deal will be finalized once the lockout ends. It’s not at all uncommon to see conflicting reports during free agency, so this doesn’t come as much of a surprise. It is, however, at least mildly intriguing that Boston was ruled out due to geography in one report and then was named as a done deal in another.
Even if we account for leeway in the translations of the respective rumors, I think it’s safe to say we really don’t have any more direction here than we did yesterday or a week ago.