Cubs Reportedly Agree To Sign Seiya Suzuki For Record Deal
Nearly 15 years after signing Kosuke Fukudome, the Cubs have signed another prolific corner outfielder from Japan.
The Cubs have agreed to sign outfielder Seiya Suzuki to a five-year, $85 million contract, the largest deal ever for a Japanese position player. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal was first to report the deal.
Suzuki, 27, was a five-time all-star and five-time Gold Glove winner in Nippon Professional Baseball and helped lead Japan to the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last summer. He hit .315/.414/.570 with 182 home runs, 562 RBIs and 82 stolen bases in nine seasons for the Hiroshima Carp, including batting .317 with a career-high 38 home runs last season. He also won two batting titles in the Central League.
Suzuki immediately ranks as the Cubs No. 2 prospect and becomes a Top 100 Prospect.
Here is his full scouting report from the 2022 Baseball America Prospect Handbook.
Seiya Suzuki, OF
BA Grade: 55/Medium
Born: Aug. 18, 1994. B-T: R-R. HT: 5-11. WT: 182.
Track Record: A second-round pick by Hiroshima out of high school in 2012, Suzuki reached the Japanese major leagues a year later at 18 and grew into one of the country’s biggest stars. He became a five-time all-star, won two Central League batting titles and led Japan to the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics, including going 2-for-3 in the gold medal game against the United States as Japan’s cleanup hitter. After hitting 182 home runs in nine seasons, including a career-high 38 home runs in 2021, he was posted by the Carp in November.
Scouting Report: While many Japanese hitters keep their hands inside and take short, direct swing paths to the ball, Suzuki takes powerful uppercuts more conducive to the modern MLB game. He gets into a launch position and pulls balls hard in the air for long home runs to left and left-center field, as well as driving the occasional shot to right-center. He has plus-plus raw power and above-average game power he should be able to access once he adjusts to major league velocity. Suzuki rarely faced mid-90s fastballs in Japan and opinions are split how effectively he’ll adjust to that velocity in MLB. Proponents see the bat speed, hand-eye coordination and feel for the barrel for him to be an average hitter once he settles in. Suzuki gets good jumps and has excellent range in right field, especially going back into the right-center field gap. He is an above-average defender with above-average arm strength and provides defensive value even when he is slumping at the plate. Suzuki has slowed down as he’s aged and is no longer a 20-steal threat like he was in his younger years, but he can still swipe an occasional bag and moves fine in the outfield. He has a “grinder” mentality and earns strong reviews for his on-field makeup.
The Future: Suzuki has all the traits to be a power-hitting, everyday right fielder in the major leagues. He will command a multi-year deal and should compete for a starting job right away.