12/7 Cubs welcome Fujikawa
The Cubs officially introduced new reliever Kyuji Fujikawa on Friday at Wrigley Field. The Japanese right-hander, who played for the Hanshin Tigers, agreed to a two-year, $9.5 million contract. The deal includes a signing bonus of $1 million and $4 million in salaries in 2013 and ’14. There also is a vesting option valued at $5.5 million or $6 million, to be determined by games finished.
He visited Chicago and Wrigley Field a few weeks ago, and was sold on the city and the ballpark then.
“From that day on, in my head, it was ‘Cubs, Cubs, Cubs,’ and that’s how everything came through,” Fujikawa said.
The right-hander, who totaled 220 saves in 12 seasons with Hanshin, will be used to set-up closer Carlos Marmol, not take his place.
“Our goal is to have the best bullpen possible,” GM Jed Hoyer said. “Kyuji certainly adds to that. He’s had a great career. If you look at his career, he was a dominant set-up guy first and a dominant closer. We know he can do both roles. We look at it as adding a great arm and we don’t worry about the role.”
Fujikawa wasn’t too concerned when he would be pitching.
“[He wanted] a chance to have a meaningful role and do his job,” Theo Epstein said of Fujikawa. “That’s all he said. He said, ‘My job is not closer or set-up guy, my job is to help the team win and do what the manager asks of me’ and that’s the only time it came up in the discussion.”
There’s a reason he picked No. 11.
“I was No. 22 with the Hanshin Tigers,” Fujikawa said, “but to have a better career than No. 22, I went younger with No. 11. I asked for 11 and it was luckily open.”
He may want to feel young but the Cubs are hoping Fujikawa can stabilize the young bullpen. They also really like his stuff.
“The biggest thing was his ability to pitch with his fastball,” Hoyer said. “He’s not a guy who tricks you, he comes right after guys. … Guys who rely too much on trickery can be guys who the league figures out quickly. Our hope is that because he pitches with his fastball, he can pitch to a game plan and establish himself and have a nice run.”
– Carrie Muskat