State of the Cubs: Seiya Suzuki’s end of the season has team in strong spot at right field
The 2023 season is over and after narrowly missing out on the playoffs, the Cubs are staring down a pivotal winter. Before the stove starts heating up, we analyze the Cubs depth chart at each position and how Jed Hoyer’s front office might address the team’s needs.
Next up: Right Field
- Seiya Suzuki
- Christopher Morel
- Mike Tauchman
- Alexander Canario
After the trade deadline, the Cubs were faced with a conundrum when it came to Seiya Suzuki: where does he fit on a team vying for a playoff spot? At the beginning of August, that answer was on the bench against right-handers. By the end of the season, it was clear — he was an important force in the middle of the Cubs lineup.
Through July, Suzuki was slashing .249/.330/.383/95 wRC+ and after the team acquired Jeimer Candelario at the trade deadline, Suzuki’s fit wasn’t clear. That led David Ross and the Cubs to sit Suzuki on the bench against righties while Mike Tauchman manned right field, Cody Bellinger patrolled center, Candelario anchored first and Nick Madrigal handled the hot corner. Through the team’s first 8 games in August, Suzuki started just 2 against left-handed starters and came off the bench in the 8th inning in another.
When he was reinserted into the lineup on August 9 against the Mets, he made the most of it, finishing a double shy of the cycle and kicking off a torrid end to his season that would fully entrench him as both the Cubs’ right fielder of the future and a middle-of-the-order force. From that game until the end of the season, Suzuki slashed .356/.414/.672/ with a 187 wRC+, 11 home runs and 37 RBI.
“To be honest with you, I didn’t really start off pretty well at the start of the season, but in the second half, I was able to turn it around,” Suzuki said through interpreter Toy Matsushita at the end of the season. “That’s something I couldn’t do last year – staying consistent. I was pretty consistent for the last 2 months and I feel like I’m really, really confident now so I feel like it’s gonna be a huge stepping stone for me heading into my 3rd year next year.”
If he’s able to replicate the end of the season, it gives the Cubs a much-needed impact bat in their lineup.
Suzuki, signed to a 5-year contract that runs through the 2026 season, is the present and future right fielder for the Cubs — and his end to the season should give the team plenty of encouragement with that statement.
Beyond him, Christopher Morel could man the position if injury strikes or Suzuki needs a day off. Tauchman, arbitration eligible this year, could play there, too, if he’s brought back and if Bellinger or top prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong is in center.
Alexander Canario debuted in September, showed some power and could be a quality depth option for the Cubs outfield. Canario has been the starting right fielder for the Águilas Cibaeñas in the Dominican Winter League this offseason.
The Cubs corner outfielders are set — it’s Suzuki and Ian Happ. If Suzuki can showcase that consistency he showed in August and September, then it bodes well for the Cubs’ offensively and shows why the team valued him so much when he was coming over from Japan.
State of the Cubs series