Though you may harbor some skepticism after a report earlier in the week had Seiya Suzuki signing with the Padres, the latest news out of Japan is that the outfielder has reached a deal with the Cubs. According to both Sanspo and Tokyo Sports, the 27-year-old is in agreement on a five-year deal for up to $85 million that would be the largest contract for a Japanese position player making the jump to MLB.
Update: After David Kaplan of ESPN 1000 tweeted that the deal was for $70 million, Ken Rosenthal tweeted that it’s for $85 million. The former would result in a posting fee of $12.375 million while the latter would push the fee to $14.625 million for a total cost of $99.625 million. For what it’s worth, posting fees do not count toward competitive balance tax calculations.
There’s also the possibility that the reporting has conflated the total cost of the deal plus the posting fee to arrive at the $85(ish) million total, but that’s really irrelevant at this point.
Rosenthal later added that the deal features a full no-trade clause, which tells us quite a bit about how the Cubs are viewing the immediate future and how the front office may be changing its strategy. Giving Suzuki an NTC means the Cubs expect to compete right away and over the course the next five years, but it also means Hoyer isn’t following Theo Epstein’s playbook.
The deal is pending a physical, after which Suzuki would report to the Cubs’ facility in Mesa to get started. The Cubs had prioritized him as a target early in the offseason and made a big push to get him, culminating in a meeting Monday night that included Tom Ricketts.
I’m very interested to hear what he has to say about his decision and what brought him to Chicago when several other teams were involved. Suzuki had explained back in November that his wife’s opinion would factor heavily as well, and that they were both very interested in the culture — particularly food — in their new city. As soon as I heard that, I knew Chicago had a leg up.
This signing represents a big shift in the narrative for the organization of late, but it won’t be enough in and of itself to move the needle in a big way. If Jed Hoyer can go out and land another impact hitter, though…