It's no secret that the Cubs are looking for bullpen help. We also know that they're looking to move Carlos Marmol and his contract if they can -- the attempted trade for Dan Haren would have been a big win for the Cubs.
That's why this report is of interest:
Kyuji Fujikawa visited Chicago on Thursday to get a tour of Wrigley Field. Fujikawa has now visited the Diamonbacks and Cubs and is scheduled to make stopovers with the Dodgers and Angels.
The link attached to that report is broken, but multiple reports indicate that Fujikawa is definitely interested in pitching for a MLB team in 2013. He's a free agent and doesn't have to go through the posting process.
Fujikawa's NPB statistics are stellar: 220 saves and a 1.77 ERA in 692⅓ innings covering 562 appearances. He doesn't walk hitters -- 207 in his career -- and has struck out far more than one per inning -- 914 in all. In 47⅔ innings in 2012, he allowed just one home run.
Now, there's a caveat. Japanese closers coming to MLB have had a mixed record. Kazuhiro Sasaki had three really good years for the Mariners, then one bad one, then went back to Japan. He was replaced by Shigetoshi Hasegawa, who had one good year, then two bad ones, then a trip back to NPB. Shingo Takatsu -- same thing for the White Sox, good for a short time, then quickly back to Japan. Only Takashi Saito had any sustained success, closing for the Dodgers, and he was 36 when he came to MLB.
Fujikawa is 32. At the right price, he'd be a very good signing for the Cubs. Given the other teams interested -- Dodgers, Angels, Diamondbacks, Rangers, maybe others -- the Cubs would probably have to promise him he could close to sign him. I think I'd do that.
What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments.