Could Seiya Suzuki be the Cubs’ next ‘significant’ signing?

Spring training has begun, but the free-agent and trade markets are in full swing.

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Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer and general manager Carter Hawkins address the media on the first day of spring training workouts at the Sloan Park complex in Mesa, Arizona.

Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer and general manager Carter Hawkins address the media on the first day of spring training workouts at the Sloan Park complex in Mesa, Arizona.

Maddie Lee/Sun-Times

MESA, Ariz. — Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer wouldn’t promise a “significant” addition to the roster when he sat down for a news conference Monday, the first official day of spring-training workouts.

He didn’t rule one out, either. 

“Certainly, we’re having a lot of conversations,” Hoyer said. “I’ve done this too long to assume that anything gets across the finish line. So you try to keep a lot of balls in the air. And some of those may be, as you guys would deem, ‘significant.’ Some may not be.”

Outfielder Seiya Suzuki, the Japanese star who has created plenty of free-agency buzz this winter, would qualify as a significant addition. But first, the Cubs would have to convince him to choose them out of his many suitors. The Cubs’ brass was scheduled to meet with Suzuki’s camp Monday night, a source confirmed to the Sun-Times. 

Their strong interest makes sense. Suzuki, 27, would add a power bat to a lineup short on true heart-of-the-order hitters. And at his age, with a four- to six-year contract, Suzuki would likely still be in his prime when the Cubs’ young top prospects joined him in the big leagues. 

According to MLB Network, the Padres, Dodgers, Red Sox, Giants and Mariners also were among the teams in the running to sign Suzuki.

Even if the Cubs strike out with Suzuki, additions are coming.

The Cubs need to fill out their bullpen, and that need only became more pressing when reliever Codi Heuer underwent Tommy John surgery last week. Then Hoyer announced that starting pitcher Adbert Alzolay (shoulder) is expected to begin the season on the injured list. 

“Our biggest focus, candidly, has been pitching and pitching depth,” Hoyer said. 

What about position players? 

“Honestly, we’re gonna keep adding,” Hoyer said. “Not that we’re not comfortable with the players we have. We have a lot of really good players, but I think we’re going to continue to look to add.”

By agreeing to terms with shortstop Andrelton Simmons — whose signing still wasn’t official as of Monday afternoon — the Cubs reinforced their middle infield. Nico Hoerner and Nick Madrigal reported to spring training without any restrictions, but they missed significant time last season with injuries. 

“Keeping guys healthy on the field is a top priority,” manager David Ross said. “And having that depth is something that I know we’ve set out [to do] and was an intention from the front-office standpoint.” 

Though shortstop Carlos Correa is likely seeking a high-priced long-term deal, some Cubs fans are still holding out hope that he’ll sign with their team. Even pitcher Marcus Stroman had fun on Twitter recruiting the two-time All-Star. 

“Everyone thinks I have insider info,” Stroman said, laughing. “I have no insider info.” 

With that backdrop, Hoyer was asked if the Cubs had resolved their shortstop needs. 

“We’re really happy with our middle infield right now,” Hoyer said, touting its defensive prowess. “We have three middle infielders we have a ton of faith in. And, almost like on the pitching side, we’ll continue to add depth and give ‘Rossy’ options of how to move guys around.”

The Cubs have stayed out of blockbuster trades since the lockout reopened. As of Monday night, they had agreed to terms with Simmons and signed reliever Jesse Chavez to a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training and a chance to win a roster spot, considering the club’s need for relievers. 

The Cubs’ direction is still taking shape. The phones are still ringing.

Said Hoyer: “It’s been a crazy few days.”

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