Cubs

Reds officially sign Shogo Akiyama, a Cubs free agent target

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AP

Reds officially sign Shogo Akiyama, a Cubs free agent target

Monday, the Reds announced they’ve signed center fielder Shogo Akiyama to a three-year, $21 million deal.

General manager Jed Hoyer acknowledged the Cubs met with Akiyama during the Winter Meetings, though he admitted they weren’t the only team interested. Besides the Reds, the Rays and Diamondbacks also met with the 31-year-old.

"Yeah, we met with him,” Hoyer said in December. “Listen, a lot of teams were involved. Obviously he's a very good player and he's gonna have a good role on a major-league team this year, but I can't comment beyond that."

Akiyama is unproven as a big-leaguer but had a successful nine-year run in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball. He holds a career .301/.376/.454 slash line and hit .303 with a .392 on-base percentage in 2019.

For the Cubs, Akiyama would have been another center field option to go along with Ian Happ and Albert Almora Jr. He also would have been a true leadoff candidate for the Cubs — an area of need â€” though likely not as an everyday option.

The Cubs’ tight budget has been discussed ad nauseum this winter. They're trying to stay under MLB's $208 million luxury tax threshold and therefore have been limited in the free agent market this winter.

A three-year deal for Akiyama is semi-risky, considering his lack of big-league experience. However, $7 million annually isn’t a tremendous financial commitment. Perhaps the Cubs weren't comfortable offering that many years and/or dollars, but their admitted meeting shows they were interested in Akiyama.

Instead, he goes to a division rival in the Reds, who have made a number of impact moves this winter to improve following a 75-win 2019 season. 

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Cubs Talk Podcast: Did the Cubs have the greatest game 7 of all time?

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Did the Cubs have the greatest game 7 of all time?

The 2016 Cubs World Series win was as epic a game 7 as any, but was it the greatest game 7 ever? Host David Kaplan is joined by NBCS Cubs insider Gordon Wittenmyer as they debate the Cubs World Series win.

(1:50) - Is it an overreaction to say the Cubs World Series win was a great game?

(5:45) - Does the importance of the Cubs winning make it the greatest ever?

(8:20) - Comparisons to other game 7s across sports

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Cubs Talk Podcast

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Cubs' Jason Kipnis sets up unique fundraiser for COVID-19 relief

Cubs' Jason Kipnis sets up unique fundraiser for COVID-19 relief

With baseball suspended indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jason Kipnis is using some of his free time to help those in need.

Kipnis announced Thursday he's set up a Cameo account and will donate portions of the proceeds to coronavirus relief and medical workers. Cameo is a video-sharing platform where people can book personal shout-outs from celebrities, athletes, influencers and more.

RELATED: Jason Kipnis airs concerns over challenges players will face when MLB returns

The Cubs second baseman added supporters can request where he donates the proceeds.

Kipnis joins Cubs Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins in using Cameo to help those affected by the coronavirus.

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