As the MLB lockout dragged into March, Seiya Suzuki remained committed to making the jump from Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) despite facing the potential of falling behind should he fail to sign a Major League contract.
NPB Spring Training began in February, and their 2022 season is due to start March 27. The Hiroshima Carp posted Suzuki on Nov. 22, which began a period of 30 days to negotiate with MLB teams.
However, his window was paused at the start of December due to the lockout. Once a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) was ratified, it left Suzuki with 20 days to resume talks and potentially sign a contract.
According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Suzuki has decided to sign a five-year, $85 million contract with the Chicago Cubs:
Seiya Suzuki in agreement with Cubs, pending physical, source tells @TheAthletic. Five years, $85M.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 16, 2022
Per multiple reports, the 27-year-old also obtained a full no-trade clause as part of the deal. Suzuki’s contract is the richest for a Japanese position player and second-highest among all international free agents coming from Japan.
Masahiro Tanaka’s seven-year, $155 million contract with the New York Yankees that was signed in January 2014 still stands as the biggest deal ever signed by a Japanese player coming to MLB.
Per terms of the posting agreement between MLB and NPB, the Carp were due a release fee that amounted to 20% of the first $25 million from a contract Suzuki signed, an additional $17.5% of the next $25 million, and 15% for any total that surpassed $50 million.
Thus, the Cubs owe a $14.62 million posting fee to the Carp, and their total to sign Suzuki is $99.62 million. However, only Suzuki’s $17 million average annual value will count toward the Cubs’ luxury tax.
That makes for a $14.625MM posting fee, bringing the Cubs’ total expenditure to $99.625MM. Only Suzuki’s $17MM AAV will count toward the luxury tax.
This marks another splash in free agency for the Cubs, who signed Marcus Stroman for three years and $71 million before the lockout began.
Which teams were interested in signing Suzuki?
Throughout various points of the offseason the Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants and Seattle Mariners were among the teams most prominently connected to Suzuki. The Cubs were not publicly mentioned as having interest until late last week.
Last month the Giants and Mariners were identified as the frontrunners to sign Suzuki.
Suzuki set career highs with 38 home runs and a 1.079 on-base plus slugging percentage last season, and in nine years playing in NPB, hit .315/.415/.571 while making five All-Star teams.
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