The Cubs have reportedly made their biggest splash of the offseason, picking up Kyuji Fujikawa. Though no statement from the team has been released, Ken Rosenthal, among other reports the deal is done. Fujikawa has spent his 12-year career with the Hanshin Tigers, racking up 220 saves and a miniscule 1.77 ERA. The new closer will bring stability to a position which has plagued the team over the past few seasons, as Carlos Marmol has struggled to get the job done.
The deal is worth $9.5 million over two seasons.
One downside of Fujikawa is that he has not worked over 70 innings since the 2007 season and he has a history of injuries. If those downsides come back to bite the new Chicago pitcher, the team has a $500,000 buyout clause.
The news is a bit of a surprise, as all signs pointed towards Fujikawa signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was welcome news for Cubs fans though, especially once you take a look at his numbers from last year. In dominant form, Fujikawa saved 24 games with a 1.32 ERA, striking out 52 batters in only 47.2 innings pitcher.
Although it may take him some time to adjust to his new country and team, Fujikawa should step in immediately as the closer. Now the question of what to do with Marmol arises. The Cubs tried to trade Marmol last month, before a deal involving Dan Haren of the Los Angeles Angels fell through. He may not have gotten the job done in save situations as much as the team would have liked him to, but the 30-year old posted a respectable 3.42 ERA last year.
If Marmol can settle into a setup man role, the Cubs would have some solid options out of the bullpen late in games.
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