CHICAGO – The Chicago Cubs said Wednesday they have signed a four-year contract through the 2011 season with free agent outfielder Kosuke Fukudome.
The 30-year-old Fukudome was given the No. 1 jersey, the same number he wore with the Chunichi Dragons. The club did not disclose the contract’s value or other details, but it is reportedly worth $48 million.
“I’m happy to be able to sign with the Cubs which have (a long) history in the majors,” Fukudome said at a press conference.
After declaring free agency from the Dragons, Fukudome chose the Chicago Cubs after deciding to play in the major leagues, though the Dragons, Hanshin Tigers and Yomiuri Giants all made offers to him to remain in Japan.
Aside from the Cubs, the San Diego Padres, Chicago White Sox and San Francisco Giants were also reportedly among the clubs that showed interest in Fukudome, who is a .305 career hitter with 192 home runs, 647 RBIs and a .397 on-base percentage in 1,074 games in his entire nine-year pro career with the Dragons.
“We are thrilled that Kosuke Fukudome chose to play for the Cubs and continue his already magnificent career at Wrigley Field,” Cubs Vice President/General Manager Jim Hendry said.
“We are honored that he will become the first Japanese player in our franchise’s history and look forward to seeing him wearing a Cubs uniform.”
Hendry also said the Cubs have been watching Fukudome very closely since he played for Japan at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
The two-time Central League batting champion has led the league in on-base percentage three times and is also a four-time Golden Glove winner.
“Wrigley Field is a big ballpark, and I hope I will be able to show my defensive skills,” Fukudome said.
“As for hitting, I don’t know if I can do well right away, but I’ll try to make it up with things such as on-base percentage.”