The Chicago Cubs today made a big splash in free agency, signing Japanese closer Kyuji Fujikawa, according to Ken Rosenthal. The deal, according to Rosenthal’s tweets say that Fujikawa will be paid $9.2 Million over the course of a two year contract. The deal also consists of an option for a third year vesting that is worth $5.5 option which the Cubs can pick up at any point. The deal also comes with a $500K buy out. If you notice, his deal comes much cheaper than what Marmol is making this year.
In case you have no idea who Fujikawa is, he is a very high profile closer from the Japanese baseball league ahis six and has put up impressive numbers in his six year career. With a grand total of 202 saves, along with an ERA of 1.36 he should immediately be able to slide into the Cubs closer role, even though that is currently occupied by Carlos Marmol.
With Fujikawa being added to the ball club, there is only a question mark of what to do with Marmol. One option is moving back into the setup role where he had immense success, and put up career numbers. In the closes role Marmol had very spotty production, occasionally looking untouchable, while more often than not keeping fans on the edge of their seats as he barely squeaked by with the save. Last year Marmol started off the season about as poorly as one can imagine, but after an injury sidelined his season, he came back and looked like the Marmol of old. Was that due to an improvement in his mechanics or the simple lack of pressure? If the answer is lack of pressure, a move out of the pressure cooker role of closer could mean the Cubs have a dominant back end of the bullpen.
This addition could also mean that Marmol is about to be traded. If you remember, a month ago rumors were flying that he had been traded to the Anaheim Angels for Dan Haren. That deal fell apart, despite several media outlets reporting the deal was done. We find ourselves in the same situation as with the Ryan Dempster failed trade, and the Marmol failed trade as the Cubs have yet to confirm or deny anything that has been reported. But something like this cannot possibly happen to the Cubs three times, at least I hope not.
Before you think this signing means the Cubs are going to dive into free agency and try to compete, hold your horses. While this does qualify as a big splashy signing, the dollar amount is a relative value. He is an immense upgrade over what we currently have, and will go a long way to helping the Cubs win some ball games that they should win. But remember, this is not the Japanese league anymore. Major League history is filled with Japanese stars that have come to the Majors and failed to live up to the grand expectations they arrived with. Remember Kosuke Fukudome?
I am thrilled with this addition, but I have two requests for all Cubs fans. First, temper expectations. Do not expect miracles out of him, and do not turn on him at the first blown save. Secondly, and most importantly, PLEASE DO NOT WEAR THOSE DAMN HORRY KOW SHIRTS.