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).
Hagsag 48 sec ago (view)
Phil, thanks. You are the Man!
tim815 6 min 23 sec ago (view)
Anything on what happened in the DSL facility?
I have an odd tweet that makes today's postponements today not weather related.
Eric S 47 min 48 sec ago (view)
Alzolay started yesterday for the Iowa Cubs and would track to take what was supposed to be Hendricks next turn in the rotation - perhaps Adbert gets his first MLB start this upcoming week. That would get my vote.
Andy 55 min 56 sec ago (view)
I shall do my best to turn things around. My first game at Dodger Stadium.
JustSayin' 1 hour 2 min ago (view)
Jim Brower, a former MLB pitcher who had a pretty solid career, was the Cubs' Minor League Pitching Coordinator through 2017. He was replaced by Brendan Sagara, for whom WHO? would be a fair comment. Sagara's highest level of pitching experience was a cup of coffee with the independent Evansville Otters in the Frontier League. I think it's fair to say development of the pitching-heavy 2016-18 draft classes has been disappointing, perhaps VERY disappointing. I can't say this is Sagara's fault but it is definitely occuring on his watch.
crunch 1 hour 51 min ago (view)
last thing i wanna hear about a dude who throws 85-88mph is "shoulder issues"
crunch 1 hour 59 min ago (view)
schwarber / bryant / rizzo / baez / heyward(CF) / caratini / cargo(RF) / darvish / russell
Eric S 1 hour 59 min ago (view)
Was that before or after Hendricks going on the 10 day IL with right shoulder inflammation?
crunch 2 hours 1 min ago (view)
k.hendricks to the 10-day IL with "right shoulder inflamation"
rowan wick up because whatever.
Arizona Phil 3 hours 12 min ago (view)
Because they never play more than four days in a row, AZL Cubs #1 and AZL Cubs #2 will only need four SP each.
The pitchers at AZL mini-camp who are (right now) stretched-out to start are Brendon Little (rehab), Carlos Ocampo, Jose Miguel Gonzalez, Chi-Feng Lee, Misael Garcia, Richard Gallardo, and Luis Ramos, and Keegan Thompson may be ready for an AZL SP rehab assignment soon.
Arizona Phil 3 hours 17 min ago (view)
The Cubs are down to five catchers at AZL mini-camp (draft picks Ethan Hearn, Wyatt Hendrie, and Jake Washer have not yet officially signed), so Mesa Rehab Coach (and ex-minor league catcher) Tyler Pearson has been taking on some extra duties, catching bullpen side-sessions and warming up pitchers in the pen. (He caught Craig Kimbrel the other day).
So I would not be surprised if the Cubs sign a NDFA college senior catcher or acquire an experienced catcher from indy ball to help out.
Arizona Phil 3 hours 28 min ago (view)
Not counting 2019 draft picks and rehabbers, the Cubs top prospect in the AZL this season is SS Luis Verdugo (he's one of the Cubs Top 10 position player prospects).
Verdugo was supposed to go to Eugene with 2B Reivaj Garcia this past week, but was left behind at Mesa when SS Dixon Machado was reinstated from the Iowa IL last Tuesday and SS Luis Vazquez (who had been playing SS at Iowa) needed to go somewhere where he could play SS every day. (Vazquez was assigned to Eugene).
Craig A. 3 hours 48 min ago (view)
Bring him up!
Arizona Phil 4 hours 2 min ago (view)
HAGSAG: As far as I know he's still with the Cubs.
Hagsag 4 hours 5 min ago (view)
Phil, has Jim Benedict left the Cubs Organization? Thanks.
Arizona Phil 4 hours 14 min ago (view)
Several of the younger pitchers and position-players who were at Extended Spring Training but who were not in contention for Eugene Opening Day roster slots went home for about ten days between the end of the EXST Cactus League season (6/1) and the start of AZL mini-camp this past Tuesday (6/11).