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 5 min ago (view)
And Joe pinch hits for Descalso again today - now 205/277/316 on the year. But no need to put a jumpy-jump in the parking lot during spring training like they did last year for TLS so it balances out.
crunch 1 hour 28 min ago (view)
tommy lastella hit his 12th homer of the year...grand slam.
tim815 2 hours 23 sec ago (view)
Not sure why any of the teams would only have enough talent for one XSL game.
crunch 3 hours 13 min ago (view)
aww...cubs were a pest all game, but couldn't overcome.
crunch 3 hours 16 min ago (view)
omfg chatwood...with the bat.
crunch 3 hours 17 min ago (view)
RIP heyward's bat.
shout out to bo jackson...that was a clean break.
it was a swing/miss with no contact so it's doubtful it was a cracked bat.
Eric S 3 hours 44 min ago (view)
Bullpen reclamation project Kyle Ryan’s ERA now 5.06. Bummer
crunch 4 hours 59 sec ago (view)
wow baez...also, wow rizzo.
call overturned, but that was a hell of an "almost" play.
crunch 6 hours 51 min ago (view)
he's thrown so little of his other stuff lately that i can't even guess and sure don't know.
he's always been fastball-heavy, but it's almost exclusively fastball now.
he gets movement on a 95-97mph fastball...that's a positive about it if he's gonna continously offer it up.
VirginiaPhil 6 hours 56 min ago (view)
crunch 7 hours 21 min ago (view)
schwarber / baez / rizzo / contreras / heyward / almora / descalso / lester / bote
i guess we're in for 2-20 random games of "pitcher hits 8th" before suddenly deciding that's not a thing anymore...again
crunch 13 hours 43 min ago (view)
it had to feel good for him to get that standing O at the home ballpark.
he's still throwing almost nothing but fastballs exclusively, though...wonder what's up with that.
Hagsag 14 hours 35 min ago (view)
Chatwood is becoming a force in the BP.
QuietMan 23 hours 14 min ago (view)
crunch 23 hours 33 min ago (view)
ALMORA GRAND SLAM!!!
way to break a tie.
crunch 1 day 19 min ago (view)