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 28 min ago (view)
Kimbrel pitched the 7th inning for the Iowa Cubs today - he threw 8 pitches (6 strikes) to three batters getting a fly out to center, a groundout to third and swinging K. Nice start!
Karl Pagel Blues 2 hours 57 min ago (view)
Thank you, Phil. Have you ever considered doing your own podcast? Your grasp on baseball history is fantastic.
Karl Pagel Blues 3 hours 5 min ago (view)
Thank you, Mike.
Mike Wellman 12 hours 3 min ago (view)
And 71 games in, the C-Cubs & I-Cubs are in a dead heat @ 39-32...
Craig A. 14 hours 38 min ago (view)
Thanks very much, Phil.
Arizona Phil 16 hours 46 min ago (view)
CRAIG A: SS Ernie Banks and 2B Gene Baker arrived on the same day in September 1953, although Banks made his MLB game debut three days before Baker.
crunch 18 hours 50 min ago (view)
i think gene baker was technically the first signed, but ernie banks was the first to suit up and play. baker was injured when ernie made his debut.
JoePepitone 18 hours 53 min ago (view)
He only mentioned his second wife in his autobiography, Mr. Cub. I was surprised to find out from his Wikipedia page that he had been married before Eloyce (wife #2), having read Mr. Cub back in 1971 right after it came out. I guess when you write your autobiography, you get to put in only the parts you want to talk about.
Craig A. 19 hours 41 min ago (view)
Banks was the first African- American Cub wasn’t he? Was there a lot of drama with that?
BobbyD 20 hours 32 min ago (view)
He was a hero to me growing up, and now maybe not so much. Sad and probably (?) better how things have changed. I'm sure in the 60s whatever Addison did would have never bubbled up to us fans... But thanks for the review-so-far!
crunch 21 hours 21 min ago (view)
m.carpenter (STL) just got a stand up double bunting against the shift on a ball that barely got to the lip of the outfield grass.
a little more of that from many more players would be interesting.
crunch 21 hours 43 min ago (view)
another young fan took a foul ball for an injury...off the bat of castro (MIA) @STL
crunch 1 day 20 hours ago (view)
hell of a loss.
killer 9th inning drama all going LA's way. wow.
it says a lot that the packed house in LA was still almost all there through the last pitch of the game.
crunch 1 day 21 hours ago (view)
ESPN...it's all bad, all the time.
BobbyD 1 day 21 hours ago (view)
I'm just glad it worked out for the diarrhea girl and her date. I don't know which is worse, Arod or that fucking commercial 8 times a game.
crunch 1 day 21 hours ago (view)
sitting in the dugout, it looks like kyle schwarber has an unfortunate touch of matt williams style early onset baldness coming on...or he recently got a way-too-close-on-top haircut.
dude just turned 26 a few months ago.