Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki agreed to an $85 million, five-year deal with the Chicago Cubs Wednesday.
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 Cubs also agreed to a one-year deal with veteran reliever David Robertson and placed right-hander Codi Heuer — recovering from Tommy John surgery — on the 60-day injured list.
Veteran slugger Kris Bryant has agreed to a $182 million, seven-year deal to join the Colorado Rockies.
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 a drought-busting World Series championship 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.
A five-time All-Star and Gold Glove winner over nine seasons with the Carp, he could give some much-needed pop to an offense that ranked among the worst in the majors in 2021. The Cubs struck out a major-league record 1,596 times, and were 21st in runs and 24th in batting average at .237.
Suzuki batted .317 with 38 home runs and 88 RBIs in 132 games last season and had nearly as many walks (87) as strikeouts (88). He is a career .315 hitter with 182 homers and 562 RBIs for Hiroshima.
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. But while Heyward has provided strong defense and leadership, he hasn’t performed at the plate the way Chicago hoped. The 32-year-old veteran’s 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 advent of the designated hitter in the National League gives manager David Ross more flexibility.
Bryant is headed to his third team in eight months after spending his first six major league seasons with the Chicago Cubs, who traded him to San Francisco last July.
The 2016 NL MVP and World Series champion batted a combined .265 with 25 homers and 73 RBIs last season, and he pounded out eight hits in the Giants’ five-game playoff loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Despite a midseason slump that precipitated the trade, Bryant earned his fourth career All-Star selection during a solid rebound from a rough year at the plate in 2020.
Bryant is a career .278 hitter with 167 homers, 487 RBIs and an .880 OPS, but he is about to get the full benefits of playing at hitter-friendly Coors Field, where he has batted .263 (15-for-57) with two homers, nine RBIs and a .757 OPS in his career.
The Cubs are looking to regroup after finishing fourth in the NL Central at 71-91 in 2021 and missing the playoffs for the second time in three years. It was their worst record since the 2013 team went 66-96.
Chicago traded ace Yu Darvish to the San Diego Padres before last season and let Jon Lester and Kyle Schwarber go as free agents. The Cubs went from leading the NL Central at 42-33 after Zach Davies and the bullpen combined to no-hit the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 24 to dropping the next 11 games.
Chicago made a big move to boost the pitching staff just before the lockout by agreeing to a $71 million, three-year contract with Marcus Stroman. The 30-year-old right-hander was 10-13 with a 3.02 ERA and tied for the major league lead by making 33 starts for the Mets last season.
They also added veteran left-hander Wade Miley in November. And they finalized a deal with slick-fielding shortstop Andrelton Simmons on Tuesday.