Seiya Suzuki's contract leaves Chicago Cubs fans wishing for more

Suzuki's inconsistent production needs to improve in the second half of his Cubs' tenure
Chicago Cubs v San Francisco Giants
Chicago Cubs v San Francisco Giants / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

Two and a half years ago, the Chicago Cubs inked Japanese star Seiya Suzuki to a five-year contract worth $85 million. At the time, signing Suzuki was billed as the team finding a cornerstone power hitter to build around with the goal of competing two to three years after he signed.

Here we are at the halfway point of this contract, and things have not worked out as planned. The team is currently vying for last place in the division and sit several games below the .500 mark while Suzuki seems to be regressing or stagnant in certain areas.

For one, Suzuki isn't really hitting for power on the level you'd like one of your best hitters to. There were signs of Suzuki taking a major step forward in this area down the stretch last year, where he finished with 20 home runs, 31 doubles, and a .842 OPS. Many were hoping this was a stepping stone into Suzuki finally taking a major step into being one of the better power hitters in the league.

An oblique injury coupled with several weeks of poor performance have proven to be significant roadblocks. The 29-year-old is on pace to match his 20 home run total from last year, while he is striking out more (27.6%) and walking less (8.0%). He is also on pace to drive in just 62 runs (31 so far), a mark some of the top hitters have already reached this season.

Seiya Suzuki has not been the player the Chicago Cubs were hoping for.

The five-time NPB gold-glover has also taken a step back defensively. Suzuki's outs above average for 2024 are -3, which ranks 38th out of 46 right fielders this year. This is a stark decline from last year when he finished 12th in the league.

All in all, Suzuki hasn't been a bust by any means, but at the same time, he seems to be proving he is not capable of being in the upper echelon of hitters in this league. He's a solid piece to have in your lineup who hits the ball hard and can have good at-bats, but he doesn't move the needle enough to transform the lineup. Which is the type of hitter the Cubs were hoping for when they signed him. Suzuki is owed $38 million over the next two seasons and his contract includes a full no-trade clause, meaning the Cubs are stuck with whatever they can get out of him through the 2026 season. If this team wants to take a major step forward offensively, they need to add more around Suzuki and the others because his MVP level of play in the NPB doesn't seem to be transferring to MLB.