Cubs to introduce Fujikawa at Wrigley on Friday
Righty reportedly agrees to two-year, $9.5M contract; Marmol will have competition
By Carrie Muskat / 12/06/12 6:10 PM ET
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Carlos Marmol is still the Cubs' closer, but he's getting some competition.
The Cubs will introduce Japanese pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa at a news conference at Wrigley Field on Friday at 11:30 a.m. CT. The right-hander has reportedly agreed to a two-year, $9.5 million contract, which includes vesting options valued at $5.5 million or $6 million, to be determined by games finished.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum has watched video of Fujikawa and likes what he's seen.
"He can fill any kind of role, he has that kind of stuff," Sveum said. "Those numbers and that ability to do things with three, four different pitches just doesn't come around very often. He can set up, he can close. He can do anything he wants with a baseball. He has four quality pitches and can add and subtract with his fastball. He can pitch in the seventh, pitch in the eighth, pitch in the ninth. He can get left-handers out and pitch in any type of situation."
Does Sveum know any Japanese?
"I know how to spell 'thank you,' but that's about it," he said.
Fujikawa, 32, played 12 seasons with the Hanshin Tigers, totaling 220 saves and a 1.77 ERA. Last season, he appeared in 47 2/3 innings and compiled a 1.32 ERA. He was sidelined with an adductor strain and has not thrown 70 innings in a single season since 2007.
The question now is what happens with Marmol. He's entering the final year of his contract and is owed $9.8 million in 2013. Last month, the Cubs were close to completing a deal with the Angels, which would've sent Marmol to Anaheim for starter Dan Haren. The Cubs pulled that trade off the table because of concerns over Haren's medical reports.
"Marmol, he's our closer," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Tuesday. "He had a great second half for us. You have to give credit to the pitcher. He did a great job, threw his fastball a lot more. I do think [pitching coach] Chris Bosio deserves a lot of credit for learning about the player and seeing what he could do and really being clear.
"We were clear and are clear as we put a bullpen together that he's going to be our closer," Hoyer said. "Whether we end up signing additional relief pitchers, I think we see Carlos as our closer."
Theo Epstein, Cubs president of baseball operations, has talked to Marmol since the Angels' rumors. The right-hander was aware of the possible move because he had to waive his no-trade clause.
Marmol, 30, converted 20 of 23 save opportunities last season, and totaled 55 1/3 innings, his lowest total since 2007. He now has 115 career saves, which ranks third on the Cubs all-time, and is the franchise leader in strikeouts by a reliever with 625.
Sveum sounded as if there was room for both pitchers in the bullpen.
"He's one of the guys who can pitch in the back end of our bullpen, no doubt about it," Sveum said of Fujikawa.
Fujikawa, who is the second Japanese player in Cubs history, following Kosuke Fukudome, is the third free-agent pitcher signed by the Cubs this offseason, joining starters Scott Baker and Scott Feldman. The Cubs also re-signed free agent Shawn Camp for the bullpen.