Chicago Cubs: Team likely a long shot for Japanese lefty Yusei Kikuchi

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 17: Yusei Kikuchi pitcher for the Aces in action during the Australian Baseball League match between the Melbourne Aces and the Brisbane Bandits at Melbourne Showgrounds on November 17, 2011 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Hamish Blair/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 17: Yusei Kikuchi pitcher for the Aces in action during the Australian Baseball League match between the Melbourne Aces and the Brisbane Bandits at Melbourne Showgrounds on November 17, 2011 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Hamish Blair/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs: An international history

Since 2007, the Chicago Cubs have been a respectable threat when it comes to the status of the international free-agent market for Major League Baseball. The team had, in the past, made a few moves here or there, but nothing bridled the 2007 season. Over the next handful of years, the Cubs slowly became stronger players in the international market.

It began with Kosuke Fukudome, the heralded outfield prospect out of Japan. Entering the 2007 season, the team had finished with a 66-96 record, good for a last-place division finish. The Cubs had an aged out Jacque Jones and no hope in sight. Fukudome was rewarded with a massive four-year, $48 million contract from the Cubs.

Fukudome finished his short Cubs career with a .262/.369/.403 slash line. He put up an above-average .344 wOBA as well as a slightly above-average wRC+ of 106, however never truly lived up to the hype.

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A couple of years later, the team agreed with now beloved catcher Willson Contreras. Contreras was just 17 years old when he inked his signature. However, he has grown into such a leader for the franchise in the last few seasons. The year after Contreras, the team signed Jeimer Candelario, a former top prospect who is coming into his own with the Detroit Tigers.

Since, big names such as Eloy Jimenez, Jorge Soler, and Gleyber Torres became others to ink their first professional contract with the Cubs. While none are with the Cubs any longer, the draw of the free-agent market grew as the team became better and more consistent, giving them a good shot when it comes to this market.

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