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Fujikawa tops wish list as Winter Meetings begin

Fujikawa tops wish list as Winter Meetings begin

Fujikawa tops wish list as Winter Meetings begin
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Early arriving scouts at the Gaylord Opryland Resort on Sunday for the Winter Meetings were as curious as Cubs fans: Did the team sign Japanese free agent pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa or not?

The Cubs continue to keep quiet about Fujikawa, whom they have reportedly inked to a two-year, $9.5 million contract. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and MLB Network reported the deal on Saturday, saying Fujikawa would receive a signing bonus of $1 million and $4 million in salaries in 2013 and '14. There also was a vesting option valued at $5.5 million or $6 million, to be determined by games finished.

Cubs officials would not confirm or comment on the report. While a large contingent of Japanese media waited in the hotel lobby Sunday for a possible comment from Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer, there was a report that all that was needed was for Fujikawa to take a physical before the deal was completed.

The Cubs have other items on their wish list this week as they search for a third baseman, an additional outfielder, and more pitching. They could re-sign third baseman Ian Stewart to a Minor League deal, as well. Stewart, who missed most of last season following surgery on his left wrist, was non-tendered on Friday.

Chicago already has added free-agent pitchers Scott Baker and Scott Feldman for the rotation. General manager Jed Hoyer did meet with Fujikawa at Wrigley Field, and said he was "very impressed" by the right-hander. But there's been no word regarding a timetable. The Cubs have re-signed free-agent pitcher Shawn Camp, but otherwise have not made any additions to the bullpen.

"If we bring in someone who has closing experience, or a number of guys who have closing experience, that's no knock on Carlos [Marmol]," Hoyer said of the Cubs' current closer. "I think every team in baseball wants to have an assortment of guys back there who, if the need arises, can pitch in the ninth inning. Hopefully we can do that."

Fujikawa, 32, played 12 seasons with the Hanshin Tigers, totaling 220 saves, and a 1.77 ERA. Last season, he appeared in 47 2/3 innings and compiled a 1.32 ERA. He was sidelined with an adductor strain and has not thrown 70 innings in a single season since 2007.

The Cubs showed they are willing to deal Marmol. Last month, they were close to completing a deal with the Angels which would've sent Marmol to Anaheim for starter Dan Haren. But the Cubs pulled that trade off the table because of concerns over Haren's medical reports. Marmol is entering the last year of his contract, and is owed $9.8 million in 2013.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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