Cubs Sign Kawasaki to Minor League Deal
Jon Paul Morosi at Fox Sports reports that the Cubs have signed veteran utility infielder Munenori Kawasaki to a 2016 minor league contract, and Paul Sullivan at the Chicago Tribune further reports that Kawasaki will receive an NRI to Spring Training with the big club.
Kawasaki essentially takes the place of Jonathan Herrera (who elected free-agency after being outrighted to the minors in October), although Kawasaki will have to beat-out Tommy LaStella and/or Javy Baez (as well as fellow NRI utility INF Kristopher Negron and Logan Watkins) for a spot on the Cubs 25-man Opening Day roster.
I suspect Kawasaki will likely end up at AAA Iowa (at least until June 1st - see last paragraph below), providing insurance in case something happens to either Addison Russell or Baez.
Playing nine-plus seasons for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in the NPB Pacific League, the left-handed hitting Kawasaki was an eight-time NPB All-Star, a two-time Gold Glove award winner, and he led the league in stolen bases once. He was a member of Team Japan in both the 2005 and 2009 World Baseball Classic.
Kawasaki signed a contract with the Seattle Mariners after the 2011 season, and he has bounced back & forth between AAA and MLB over the past four seasons (one with the Mariners, and then three with the Toronto Blue Jays).
The speedy but light-hitting 34-year old has hit 234/314/284 in 262 MLB games (712 PA) 2012-2015, providing glove-first plus-defense at SS-2B-3B.
Because of previous service time accrued in Japan (NPB) prior to signing his first contract with an MLB organization, Kawasaki is considered an Article XX-B player, and in fact he has been declared an Article XX-B MLB free-agent three times: post-2013, post-2014, and post-2015. (Kawasaki wasn't declared an Article XX-B MLB FA post-2012 because the Mariners released him in October, prior to the conclusion of the World Series).
An Article XX-B MLB free-agent who signs a minor league contract at least ten days prior to MLB Opening Day and then is either not released by 12 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day prior to MLB Opening Day or added to an MLB Active List (25-man roster) or MLB Disabled List by 3 PM (Eastern) on MLB Opening Day automatically receives a $100,000 retention bonus, and the player can unilaterally opt-out of the minor league contract on June 1st if he has not been added to an MLB Active List (25-man roster) or an MLB Disabled List by that date.
Eric S 1 hour 33 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 37 min ago (view)
schwarber in the bottom 10th! walkoff homer.
Jackstraw 1 hour 48 min ago (view)
Throws strikes like Chatwood. Holds runners like Darvish.
Eric S 1 hour 56 min ago (view)
This smells like a Chatwood game.
Eric S 1 hour 58 min ago (view)
Almora - what a tool non-play there.
crunch 2 hours 12 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 16 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 20 min ago (view)
Well that settles it: Lorenzen is a better base runner than Brach. Brach haint got nuttin’
crunch 2 hours 20 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 28 min ago (view)
Near warning track power Rizzo not nearly as fun as home run derby Rizzo
Eric S 2 hours 40 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 3 hours 3 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 27 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 44 min ago (view)
31 pitches, 3 HBP by mills...and only 3 runs given up in 1.2ip so far!
crunch 5 hours 1 min ago (view)
okay, im done with alec mills.
crunch 5 hours 7 min ago (view)
almora picks up a career highlight reel catch in CF.
even heyward was pumped.