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.
crunch 7 hours 26 min ago (view)
plus, on road trips he's within limitations of carry on luggage size so he doesn't need a ticket. that adds up over time and that's how you end up signing guys like c.kimbrel.
Eric S 7 hours 53 min ago (view)
Good. He’s been a hell of a lot more productive in relief than some higher salaried guys in the Cubs pen.
QuietMan 9 hours 7 min ago (view)
Tim Collins opted to stay in the organization afterall. Pitched for ICubs today.
Hagsag 11 hours 52 min ago (view)
Barnette that is.
Hagsag 11 hours 52 min ago (view)
Any guess who will be leaving when Kimbrel arrives? It’s got to be Brach unless they drop Barnett’s.
Eric S 12 hours 24 min ago (view)
Nice job by Strop - fastball 94 and slider looking good.
crunch 12 hours 24 min ago (view)
cubs win, brews win, STL plays tonight.
night game vs ATL tomorrow. STL+MIL off day.
btw, the next 3 games vs ATL will be wrigley night games.
Eric S 12 hours 39 min ago (view)
It’s about time the Mets craptastic bullpen showed up for this series
Eric S 12 hours 44 min ago (view)
El Mago with the three run shot to right field!!!
Nice job by Hamels - 7 innning quality start and kept the game close.
Back to back three hit games by JHey also encouraging
crunch 12 hours 49 min ago (view)
baez makes career #100 count. unf.
Eric S 14 hours 23 min ago (view)
Cubs doing a nice job of elevating Alonzo’s player of the week candidacy. Freddie Freeman having a week/month too.
Eric S 14 hours 33 min ago (view)
Who can forget Joe reaching for and pulling an imaginary beard from the mound to signal for Schlitter? It was all good until a 97 mph sinker was slammed over outfield wall. Good times.
Eric S 14 hours 36 min ago (view)
Seems to me the Cubs/Jedstein would lean to acquiring an impact outfield bat vs infielder, all things being equal. A healthy and productive Zobrist would be nice as well.
Eric S 14 hours 45 min ago (view)
Caratini‘s regression to the mean weekend continues. Sigh
Thankfully Hamels comes through with a two out rbi single
Arizona Phil 16 hours 19 min ago (view)
Busy day for ex-Cub pitchers: Mariners call-up Matt Carasiti (ST NRI released by Cubs earlier this month), A's call-up ex-Cub Brian Schlitter (hasn't pitched in MLB since 2015), and Marlins outright ex-Cub Dan Straily (acquired along with Addison Russell and Billy McKinney from OAK in the Samardzija/Hammel trade in 2014, and then traded to HOU with Luis Valbuena for Dexter Fowler in 2015).
Eric S 18 hours 1 min ago (view)
Righty reliever Tony Barnette activated and Rowan Wick optioned to Iowa. Barnette has been pitching well of late in AAA.