Thu, Dec 13, 2007 - Page 19 News List

MLB: Fukudome reaches agreement with the Cubs, source says

AP , CHICAGO

Kosuku Fukudome returns to the dugout after hitting a solo shot off China's Zhao Quansheng in the fifth inning of their game at the World Baseball Classic in Tokyo on March 3 last year.

PHOTO: AP

Japanese outfielder Kosuke Fukudome and the Chicago Cubs reached a preliminary agreement on Tuesday on a US$48 million, four-year contract.

The deal is subject to a physical examination, a person familiar with the negotiations said who spoke on condition of anonymity because no announcement had been made.

Fukudome was considered one of the best outfielders in Japanese baseball. The 30-year-old slugger was a key member of the Japan team that won the inaugural World Baseball Classic in March last year.

He had surgery on his right elbow in August and sat out the Japan Series, but has 192 homers and a .305 batting average over nine seasons with the Chunichi Dragons, who won their first championship in 53 years on Nov. 2.

After becoming a free agent, Fukudome drew interest from the Cubs, San Diego Padres and White Sox.

He is expected to play right field for the Cubs, who traded outfielder Jacque Jones to Detroit this offseason and declined their contract option on veteran Cliff Floyd.

All-Star slugger Alfonso Soriano returns in left and speedy prospect Felix Pie is expected to take over in center after shuttling between the majors and minors this season. The Cubs hope Fukudome will provide the consistent left-handed bat they seek to go with righties Soriano, Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee.

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