The Chicago Cubs announced Friday they have signed star Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki to a five-year deal.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it is worth a reported $85 million, plus the posting fee the Cubs will pay the Hiroshima Carp. The contract is the largest ever for a position player moving from Japan to the United States.
"I'm really happy and I still can't believe I'm here," Suzuki said at an introductory press conference held in the Cubs' spring training complex in Mesa, Arizona.
Though he spoke mostly in Japanese, the 27-year-old Suzuki did take a moment to profess his love for Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout in English. He said he will wear No. 27 because of his love for Trout.
"I'm a little anxious but I'm in a new environment and it's exciting. I'd say my enthusiasm outweighs anxiety."
Suzuki was made available to MLB teams in November, but his 30-day posting window was paused during the owner-imposed lockout. MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported the Cubs were among the "hottest pursuers" of Suzuki, along with the Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants and Boston Red Sox.
After 99 days, the MLB lockout was lifted March 10, and the transaction freeze ended.
"I didn't hear from anybody (during the lockout) but I focused on what I could control. I had a strong desire to come here so I tried to be as well prepared as I could be while I waited to be contacted," Suzuki said.
Suzuki is a well-rounded player who hit .315 with 182 homers and 562 RBIs in nine seasons with the Hiroshima Carp of Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball league. Last season, he batted .317 with 38 home runs and nine stolen bases in 132 games.
He is a two-time Central League batting champion, five-time Golden Glove award winner and five-time All-Star.
He also hit cleanup for the gold-winning national team at the Tokyo Olympics last summer.