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According to multiple reports early Wednesday, the Cubs are signing Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki to a five-year contract, $85 million contract. The deal also includes a full no-trade clause.
He was a popular target for many teams and had been linked to the San Diego Padres before Suzuki shot that rumor down in an Instagram post.
What should Cubs fans make of their new outfielder? Here’s five things to know:
Suzuki will address a major need in the Cubs outfield
Before signing Suzuki, the Cubs were lined up to fill their three outfield spots using a plethora of players with question marks. Jason Heyward has more or less been relegated to being a spot starter and defensive substitute, and Ian Happ shows flashes of brilliance at the plate but can also struggle mightily. Otherwise, the Cubs were left with guys like Michael Hermosillo, Rafael Ortega and Clint Frazier.
Suzuki would likely fit best in right field, and Happ could shift to left, leaving Ortega and Hermosillo to alternate at center. It is still not a great outfield, but Suzuki is a significant upgrade to the group.
Dude can hit
Suzuki won the 2019 NPB batting title with a .335 batting average, and he has drawn comparisons in Japan to Shohei Ohtani and Hideki Matsui. Suzuki has a career .985 OPS in Japan, and he has hit 182 home runs in 902 NPB games. And at 27, Suzuki is entering into what are traditionally considered a hitter’s prime years.
Suzuki is also good for an average of close to 30 doubles a season, and in 2021 he posted a roughly even strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Suzuki’s good with the glove, too
Along with being a menace at the plate, Suzuki can flash the leather. He has several Gold Gloves to his name. Suzuki has spent his entire career in Japan with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, where he played some shortstop and third base early in his career, but not since 2014. Since then, Suzuki has spent time at all three outfield spots.
He is a legit 5-tool player
In all the excitement over Suzuki’s ability to hit, and hit for power and extra bases, all while providing Gold Glove-caliber defense, don’t sleep on his speed.
While leading NPB in batting average in 2019, Suzuki stole 25 bases. That would have been good enough to put him in the top 10 in Major League Baseball last year. Suzuki is a real weapon in nearly every aspect of his game.
Suzuki’s wife is a star in her own right
Suzuki’s wife Airi Hatakeyama competed as a gymnast in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, and she is now a sports reporter on Japanese television.
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