MESA, Ariz. (AP) — Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki is joining the new-look Chicago Cubs, finalizing an $85 million, five-year deal on Friday.
Suzuki gets a $5 million signing bonus and salaries of $7 million this season, $17 million in 2023, $20 million in 2024 and $18 million each in 2025 and 2026. He also receives a full no-trade provision.
Chicago will pay an additional $14,625,000 as a posting fee to Suzuki’s club, the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of Japan’s Central League.
The 27-year-old Suzuki was a five-time All-Star and Gold Glove winner in nine seasons with the Carp. He batted .317 with 38 homers and 88 RBIs in 132 games last season and had nearly as many walks (87) as strikeouts (88).
Suzuki plays right field, a position five-time Gold Glove winner Jason Heyward has manned for the Cubs since signing a $184 million, eight-year contract before the 2016 World Series championship season.
While the 32-year-old Heyward has provided strong defense and leadership, he hasn’t performed very well at the plate. Heyward's batting average dropped from .265 in 2020 to .214 last season, and he finished with eight homers and 30 RBIs in 104 games.
The Cubs also have Ian Happ, Clint Frazier and Rafael Ortega in the outfield, with prized prospect Brennen Davis in the system. The addition of the designated hitter to the National League gives manager David Ross more flexibility.
President of Baseball Operations Jed Hoyer has been busy over the past year retooling a team that didn’t quite deliver the way the Cubs hoped after winning it all in 2016. He broke up the title-winning core prior to last season’s trade deadline, part of a series of moves he hopes will help lead the franchise back toward the top.
The Cubs finished fourth in the NL Central at 71-91 in 2021, missing the playoffs for the second time in three years. It was their worst record since the 2013 team went 66-96.
Under 2017 changes to the posting system, the posting fee for Suzuki will be 20% of the first $25 million of the contract, including earned bonuses and options. The percentage drops to 17.5% of the next $25 million and 15% of any amount over $50 million. There would be a supplemental fee of 15% of any earned bonuses, salary escalators and exercised options.
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