Seiya Suzuki signs 5-year deal with Cubs

March 18th, 2022

MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs signed slugging outfielder Seiya Suzuki to a five-year contract on Friday. The deal is worth $85 million, a source told's Mark Feinsand, though the club did not disclose the contract's financial terms.

The deal became official just four days after that Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said he never assumes any significant negotiations reach the finish line. This is no ordinary transaction period. Things are moving fast.

"We're having a lot of conversations," Hoyer said in his spring-opening news conference on Monday. "But, certainly, I never assume anything is going to get done until it's actually done."

That said, Hoyer and his front office team have completed a wave of blockbuster transactions dating back to last season. With an eye on the future, Chicago has used that period of time to deal away the likes of Yu Darvish, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Báez and Craig Kimbrel, among others.

Amid that flurry of exits, Hoyer has emphasized a plan of trying to compete in the present, while building "the next great Cubs team" in the future. The front-office leader reiterated that stance on Monday, noting that moves made now would be balanced against the long-term vision.

"We're going to make moves to compete," Hoyer said. "But certainly we're not going to do things that are inconsistent with what we've done over the last 16 months."

Suzuki fits within that approach and the team's timeline. The five-time NPB All-Star is 27 years old, making him a potential impact bat in the present and a part of the next wave of rising prospects.

Without discussing Suzuki specifically, Cubs manager David Ross acknowledged on Wednesday -- when the deal was first reported -- the impact that kind of addition could make for the club.

"The rumors are exciting, right? All that stuff is good to see and hear," Ross said. "We'll wait until things are official. But, yeah, the player has a unique skillset that I think is valued in Major League Baseball. A lot of teams are after him, so the fact that our name is on the top of the rumor mill, that's exciting."

Ross also feels Suzuki fits not only the manager's goal of fielding a winning team in '22, but the front office's plans for the next several years.

"What I know about the direction we're going and the front office wants to take us," Ross said, "is they're going to try to accrue as much talent as they possibly can. Whether it's at the big league level or the Minor League level, we're going to try to get as much talent in this organization as we possibly can, because that's what winning organizations have."

Multiple reports indicated that the Cubs' brass met with Suzuki's camp Monday evening. Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts also flew to Arizona for the team's pitch. Over the weekend, reports noted that Suzuki worked out for the Padres and met with Darvish.

Suzuki was not subject to international signing bonus limitations, because he’s at least 25 years old with six or more seasons of professional experience. The Hiroshima Toyo Carp will be owed a posting fee, however. The fee consists of 20% of the first $25 million, 17.5% of the next $25 million and 15% of any remaining salary. For an $85 million pact, that equates to $14.625 million.

Last season for the Carp, Suzuki posted a .317/.433/.639 slash line with 38 homers, 26 doubles, 88 RBIs and nearly as many walks (87) as strikeouts (88).

Across the 2018-21 seasons in Japan, Suzuki hit at a .319 clip with 122 homers, a .592 slugging percentage and 351 walks vs. 359 strikeouts in 517 games. He showed off his speed in 2019 with 25 stolen bases and took home MVP honors at the WBSC Premier12 tournament that same year.

In the immediate picture, he joins a Cubs outfield that includes Ian Happ, Jason Heyward, Clint Frazier and Rafael Ortega. Behind that group are Michael Hermosillo, Harold Ramírez and Greg Deichmann, who came into camp to compete for part-time roles.

While Happ is a switch-hitter, Heyward, Frazier and Ortega are best utilized as matchup players. With the designated hitter available now as well, Ross has a number of directions he could go with his outfield options, mixing and matching based on splits, pitcher arsenals and defensive alignment.

"Hopefully, that's a good problem to have," Ross said.

Suzuki would seemingly be best suited for right field, where Heyward has been a staple for the Cubs dating back to the 2016 season. While Heyward (a five-time Gold Glove winner) has continued to provide solid defense, his overall offense took a major step back in 2021 (68 OPS+). The veteran is set to earn $22 million in each of the '22 and '23 seasons.

During a workout at Sloan Park on Wednesday, Heyward went through drills as the Cubs' center fielder.

"Look, I've already told the outfielders from Day 1 in camp, I think flexibility is important," Ross said. "You know how that is to me. If we're talking specifically about Jason Heyward, that guy wants to win and will do anything possible for the team. I've never been around somebody more pro than he is."