Cubs Re-sign Munenori Kawasaki
It was initially reported as a rumor by Japanese media earlier in the week, but Baseball America is now confiming that the Cubs have indeed re-signed INF Munenori Kawasaki to a 2017 minor league contract. He will almost certainly receive a NRI to Spring Training.
Now 35, Kawasaki spent twelve seasons in NPB (the Japanese major league) with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, hitting 294/345/378 with 267 SB in 1,145 NPB games 2000-11. He was an eight-time NPB All-Star, a two-time Gold Glove winner, he led the NPB in stolen bases once, and was a member of Team Japan in the WBC in 2006 and 2009. He was also a fan favorite, one of the most-popular players in Japan.
Kawasaki became an unrestricted free-agent after the 2011 season, and was signed by the Seattle Mariners in December 2011. Over the past five seasons with Seattle, the Toronto Blue Jays, and the Cubs, Kawasaki has logged more Plate Appearances in AAA than he has in MLB, hitting a combined 237/320/289 in 276 MLB games (738 PA) and a combined 255/346/312 in 233 AAA games (815 PA). He hit 255/352/312 in 102 games at AAA Iowa in 2016, almost matching exactly his AAA numbers from the previous four seasons. He is what's known in baseball as a high-contact small-ball slap-hitter (no power, a good bunter, and tough to strike out).
Although he is no longer the player he was in Japan, Kawasaki is still an outstanding defender at SS, 2B, and 3B, and he still runs very well, too. "Moonie" (as he is known) also is a very funny man, keeping his teammates and the media in stitches with his dancing, one-liners, and hilarious interviews.
Kawasaki will likely serve as the utility infielder (SS-2B-3B) at AAA Iowa in 2017, and because he is an outstanding defensive shortstop, will probably get first-call if anything happens to Addison Russell or Javier Baez. However, Kawasaki is out of minor league options (he had a 4th mnor league option available in 2016, and it was spent), so if the Cubs add Kawasaki to the MLB 40-man roster at some point in 2017, he can't be sent back to the minors without first passing through waivers, and he can elect to be a free-agent if he is sent outright to the minors after being added to the 40. So it won't be quite as easy for the Cubs to move Kawasaki up from Des Moines to Chicago and then back again to Des Moines as it was last year.
Also, Kawasaki is an Article XX-B player, so he will receive a $100K retention bonus if he isn't added to the MLB 40-man roster by Opening Day, and he will also receive an automattic June 1st opt-out if he isn't added to the 40 by 6/1. Last year, the Cubs got around that by releasing Kawasaki and two other Article XX-B players signed to minor league contracts (LHRP Manny Parra and OF Shane Victorino) five days prior to MLB Openng Day and then re-signing each of them to another (different) 2016 minor league contract without the Article XX-B rights. (An Article XX-B player gets the $100K retention bonus and automatic 6/1 opt-out only if he signs a minor league contract at least ten days prior to MLB Opening Day, so by releasing Kawasaki, Parra, and Victorino and then re-signing them to a new 2016 minor league contract five days prior to Opening Day, the Article XX-B rights no longer applied).
Eric S 1 hour 27 min ago (view)
Credit to Mills bouncing back strong - fifth straight quality start by the rotation certainly helps things. Yu for the series win tomorrow
crunch 1 hour 31 min ago (view)
schwarber in the bottom 10th! walkoff homer.
Jackstraw 1 hour 42 min ago (view)
Throws strikes like Chatwood. Holds runners like Darvish.
Eric S 1 hour 51 min ago (view)
This smells like a Chatwood game.
Eric S 1 hour 53 min ago (view)
Almora - what a tool non-play there.
crunch 2 hours 7 min ago (view)
phew...kimbrel is fresh off taking a half season away from the game, but im ready for a bit less drama out of his appearances.
crunch 2 hours 10 min ago (view)
lorenzen is low-key one of the most exciting players in the game, seriously. he's fun on the mound, at the plate, and baserunning.
Eric S 2 hours 14 min ago (view)
Well that settles it: Lorenzen is a better base runner than Brach. Brach haint got nuttin’
crunch 2 hours 15 min ago (view)
rizzo's power outage has been a little alarming. it seems to be bad luck more than anything obvious, though.
Eric S 2 hours 23 min ago (view)
Near warning track power Rizzo not nearly as fun as home run derby Rizzo
Eric S 2 hours 35 min ago (view)
More rare sighting in last few weeks: a Descalso plate appearance or a Rizzo home run? Descalso PA wins by an eyelash
Descalso actually had one his better at bats (even though he should have been rung up on a missed strike three) — a line drive one hopper to the shortstop
crunch 2 hours 58 min ago (view)
they're celebrating the 69 cubs at the park tonight.
they had a bunch of vets (led by billy williams) do the 7th along with a video edited together of ernie banks + ron santo singing the 7th so they could all sing along. great touch.
crunch 3 hours 22 min ago (view)
montgomery is going to be used as a SP for KC. good for him.
also, a.mills has calmed down into a hell of a nice welcome back start. he's back on my xmas card list.
crunch 4 hours 38 min ago (view)
31 pitches, 3 HBP by mills...and only 3 runs given up in 1.2ip so far!
crunch 4 hours 55 min ago (view)
okay, im done with alec mills.
crunch 5 hours 2 min ago (view)
almora picks up a career highlight reel catch in CF.
even heyward was pumped.