Japanese OF Seiya Suzuki Will Be Posted, Cubs Reportedly Among Interested Teams

Following an earlier report that the Hiroshima Carp had begun filing the requisite filing paperwork, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy confirmed Friday that star outfielder Seiya Suzuki will indeed be posted. Eddy pegs Suzuki as an average to above-average right fielder who could start for a playoff team, featuring a “swing geared for power” that should produce around a .250 average with 20+ homers.

Suzuki also has good speed with a plus arm and he’s developed a patient plate approach that allowed him to walk 20 more times (260) than he struck out (240) over the last three seasons. He’s also hit 91 homers with 82 doubles in that same time, which is quite solid.

Another big mark in his favor is that he’s still just 27 years old, far younger than most Japanese players posted for MLB teams. Gee, this sounds like the kind of player the Cubs could use. And per a report out of Japan that actually quoted Cubs Insider, the Cubs may indeed be among the teams interested (see note following post).

In the event that you clicked on that last link and read a translation, you’ll see that we said a contract of $75 million is “expected.” I used that figure as an example of the new posting system, which allows all teams to talk with the player and awards a fee to said player’s NPB team based on the deal he signs in MLB. That’s a lot better than the old system, which featured a blind bidding process in which the winning team paid for exclusive negotiating rights.

But if you think about it $75 million over six years would only be $12.5 million AAV. That’s not a bad deal at all if the guy performs according to expectations, and it’s that much better if lower projections are more accurate.

Even with that more amenable posting structure and a very reasonable deal, awarding a sizeable contract and then paying an additional fee on top of it don’t seem to fit the Cubs’ MO. After all, we’re talking about a team that has given out exactly one multi-year deal to a position player (Daniel Descalso) since 2016 and that hasn’t guaranteed more than $8 million to a position player (Jon Jay) in that same time.

That thinking may have changed a little with Friday’s waiver claim of Wade Miley from the Reds, a move that indicates pretty clearly that the Cubs are actually willing to spend some legitimate money this winter. Miley’s $10 million deal isn’t hefty by any stretch, but it surprised a whole lot of people because it went against conventional thinking. It was also a smart-money play that fits exactly what we’ve been saying the club should be doing.

Suzuki falls into that same category because he’s just now entering his prime and should remain productive for several years. He just fits what the Cubs need and want on multiple levels. I failed to mention it earlier, mainly because I’ve already cribbed enough from my earlier piece, but Suzuki is a right-handed batter. As it currently stands, the Cubs’ three primary outfielders — Jason Heyward, Rafael Ortega, and Ian Happ — spend all or most of their time on the left side.

Whether this actually ends up happening or not, and it probably won’t, I’m feeling significantly more optimistic about what the Cubs will do this offseason than I did prior to Friday afternoon. I get the sense that they’re going to be pretty aggressive, albeit in a targeted manner, so we may end up seeing even more unexpected moves over the next few weeks.

Wait, does that mean I’ve jinxed it by hyping this particular possibility. Shit, please forget you read this and clear your cache immediately.

Ed. note: Upon multiple read-throughs, it’s not evident whether the report is indicating that the Cubs are interested or that it simply cited our info and mentioned the Cubs again because of Kosuke Fukudome. Google translations aren’t exactly foolproof and can’t always be trusted. Either way, the Cubs should be in on Suzuki and we’ll continue to monitor this situation.

Ed. note Pt. 2: If you find yourself with the urge to say the Cubs should not pursue Suzuki because of Kosuke Fukudome, you may want to think long and hard about why you have that urge. Suzuki is four years younger than Fukudome was when he came over, so there’s that. What’s more, Fukudome was actually a very solid player for the Cubs.

He was an on-base machine (14.5% walk rate) who made very good contact (17.7% strikeout rate) and had a 102 wRC+ over 3.5 seasons on the North Side. Sure, there was a lot of hype because of his signing and that big Opening Day homer, but maybe take a look at the production before foolishly labeling him a bust.

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