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).
Dolorous Jon Lester 6 hours 10 min ago (view)
That is truly staggering. Shame on the rest of the Central that we are only one loss behind the pissboys, we should have been buried by now with that kind of stat.
crunch 14 hours 16 min ago (view)
...and strop gives up a hit then walks the bases loaded.
...and he closes it out with a K. neat.
this is the 1st cubs road series win since May 17-19 @WAS.
crunch 14 hours 24 min ago (view)
strop comes in to get the last out, but it has to be some kinda slow-walk back in a game that wasn't a save situation.
homer, hbp, k, k...looks healthy.
crunch 14 hours 32 min ago (view)
welcome back kimbrel.
1st pitch goes about 10 miles outside the park by marte.
crunch 15 hours 3 min ago (view)
one takeaway from this game...a slew of cubs players were fans of Hey Arnold! when they were kids.
crunch 15 hours 58 min ago (view)
woo, a good cubs away game.
crunch 18 hours 9 min ago (view)
heyward / cast / bryant / rizzo / baez / schwarb / caratini / kemp(2nd) / Q
crunch 19 hours 30 min ago (view)
so stoked for the williamsport game.
the increasing amount of off-site games is a bit concerning (middle of nowhere Field of Dreams field, really?), but I love this one. it's played out great so far and giving the kids playing in the LL series some primo seats (hope this continues) is a great touch.
Arizona Phil 20 hours 51 min ago (view)
Craig Kimbrel reinstated from IL, Duane Underwood Jr optioned to Iowa, Mark Zagunis recalled as the "26th man" for tonight's game (special travel required to get to Williamsport so MLB Comissioner permits 26th man for both clubs).
crunch 1 day 15 hours ago (view)
Charlie 1 day 16 hours ago (view)
Lester pitched 35 innings today.
crunch 1 day 18 hours ago (view)
2019...cubs fan...being thankful heyward and chatwood are around...wtf...
Eric S 1 day 19 hours ago (view)
Like having a 5-1 lead going into the ninth?
Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 20 hours ago (view)
With our vaunted late inning tandem of Tyler Chatwood and Rowan Wick!
Who would have thought?
Jackstraw 1 day 20 hours ago (view)
Cubs 1-10 with RISP in the series. Left lots of ducks on the pond. Could take some of the pressure off the pen.
Jackstraw 1 day 20 hours ago (view)
You could hit your thumb with a hammer. Or take a big bite of wayyyy too hot pizza. Just sayin.