Kyuji Fujikawa is officially a Cub as of last Friday and he follows in the foot steps of fellow Japanese import Kosuke Fukudome, signed by the prior Cubs front office regime in 2008. Prior to the Fujikawa signing, the Cubs had reportedly bid on Korean starter Hyun Jin Ryu, only to be outbid by the high rolling Dodgers.
Today there is word out of South Korea that the Cubs have signed veteran reliever Chang Yong Lim. The right handed side winder enjoyed the majority of his Korean Baseball Organization (professinal league in Korea) success with the Samsung Lions. Players that excel in the KBO also tend to make a jump to the Japanese pro league, which Lim also did.
Lim also has experience in the World Baseball Classic and was a teammate of Ryu’s on the 2009 silver medal squad. However, Korean fans probably remember Lim as the one that surrendered the go ahead RBI base hit to arch rival Ichrio Suzuki that eventually led Japan to their second straight WBC title.
Lim is currently rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and apparently the Cubs were not the only team to come knocking, according to the Yonhap News in Korea. The Cubs have reportedly signed Lim to a split contract, depending on how much time Lim will spend in the minors to get back to form. Once Lim reaches the Majors with the Cubs, he would receive a pay grade bump. In all, the side armed former closer could potential earn $5.5 million over two years.
The Yonhap report goes on to say that Lim chose the Cubs over suitors with higher offers because the team offered to help Lim in his rehab and also agreed to take on his interpreter and personal trainer onto the club payroll. The Cubs have told Lim they expect him back for the 2014 season, where Carlos Marmol figures to walk as a free agent if he is not traded before then. The Korean, however, is shooting for a July 2013 return if all goes well with his rehab.
During his prime, Lim consistently had his fastball clocked in the mid 90’s on the radar gun. With his injury rehab and age (36), it remains to be seen if he will be able to reach that velocity again in the Majors. Lim also features a slider and forkball to round out his arsenal of pitches.
The Cubs have reassured Marmol of the 2013 closer’s job and have hinted that Fujikawa will be the replacement for 2014. Regardless of when Lim arrives on the North Side, he figures to slot into the set up role. The side arm approach should help Lim keep MLB batters off balance, but at the end of the day he will need his rehab to go well for his pitches to be at their best.