The Cubs have agreed to terms with top Japanese closer Kyuji Fujikawa on a two-year, $9.5 million deal, according to multiple reports Saturday.
The Cubs would neither confirm nor deny the reports involving the 32-year-old right-hander who recently narrowed his choices to the Cubs and Los Angeles Angels from a finalist list that number five two weeks ago.
Fujikawa, whose deal is said to include a $1 million signing bonus and salaries of $4 million each of the next two years (with $500,000 buyout on third-year option), had 220 saves in 12 seasons with the Hanshin Tigers - with a 1.77 ERA and sub-1 career WHIP.
The Cubs appeared to be in the driver's seat in their pursuit of Fujikawa after the Angels signed free agent closer Ryan Madson early in the week.
And while the signing could signal an impending trade of closer Carlos Marmol, comments by Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer as recently as Friday suggest that might not be the case.
``I think whenever you build a bullpen, you want as man guys who have a chance to pitch late in the game as possible,'' Hoyer said of Marmol - who came within a sketchy medical report of being traded to the Angels for starter Dan Haren a month ago. ``If we bring in somebody capable of closing, that's no knock on Marmol.''
Marmol, who was demoted from the closer role for lengthy stretches each of the past two seasons, has one year, $9.8 million, left on his contract.
Fujikawa visited Wrigley Field on Nov. 15 and met with Hoyer and team president Theo Epstein - telling Japanese media he liked the similarities between Wrigley Field and 88-year-old Koshien Stadium, where his Tigers play (including ivy and rare-for-Japan natural grass).
``We came away very impressed,'' Hoyer said of the meeting.
The Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angeles Dodgers and Baltimore Orioles also offered contracts to Fujikawa.
Fujikawa's deal reportedly includes a $5.5 million vesting option for 2015 that becomes a club option if it doesn't vest.