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).
crunch 1 min 43 sec 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.
crunch 1 hour 7 min ago (view)
i dont have ESPN anymore since DirecTV Now raised their prices, so I have to rely on...umm...very legal and very cool ways for my ESPN fix.
Hagsag 1 hour 15 min ago (view)
Pat and Ron, no Aroid for me.
crunch 1 hour 26 min ago (view)
phew...last ESPN sunday cubs game until the williamsport little leage classic game Aug 18 vs PIT.
i really like the LLClassic and i'm stoked the cubs will play this year. i hope it sticks around for a long time.
QuietMan 2 hours 11 min ago (view)
crunch 2 hours 55 min ago (view)
t.barnette and d.hultzen worked today's IOW game. nice to have emerging options...
d.mekkes is continuing to be a future end-game reliever to keep an eye on, too. he's not making many team prospect lists, and he's not blowing anyone away, but he's steady getting it done.
crunch 3 hours 1 min ago (view)
mike trout will be a cub soon enough. woo! if they package both together the cubs might be able to snag griffin canning along with him.
Arizona Phil 6 hours 29 sec ago (view)
If Ben Zobrist were to return to baseball sometime in the next few weeks or next couple of months, keep in mind that he does have a minor league option left, so he (like Craig Kimbrel) could consent to an Optional Assignment to the minors to get into playing shape.
Arizona Phil 7 hours 3 min ago (view)
As of today (6/16), Daniel Descalso and Brad Brach no longer have Article XX-B "no trade" rights and so they can be traded without restriction.
Arizona Phil 7 hours 33 min ago (view)
LF Nelson Maldonado, 3B Grayson Byrd, CF Zac Taylor, INF Jacob Olson, and INF-OF-C Bryce Windham (the five college senior position-player draft picks who officially signed last Tuesday and who have been active in AZL mini-camp for almost a week) should be ready to play in AZL games right from the gitgo.
The sixth college senior position player draft pick signed by the Cubs (LF Darius Hill, who signed officially on Thursday) might not be quite ready on AZL Opening Day.
Arizona Phil 7 hours 43 min ago (view)
Cubs 24th round draft pick 3B Grayson Byrd looks exactly like Justin Turner (at least above the neck). Long red hair and a full red beard. Now if he could only hit like Turner...
Arizona Phil 7 hours 43 min ago (view)
INF-OF Bryce Windham (32nd round pick - Old Dominion) worked out at catcher in "live" BP yesterday, so he could be the 6th Cubs AZL catcher (they really need three on both squads) if they don't add another catcher this week.
Arizona Phil 9 hours 3 min ago (view)
JustSayin': Brendan Sagara is the Mad Scientist who developed & implemented the high-tech Cubs Pitching Lab at the UAPC in Mesa. The Pitching Lab can't turn everybody into Jacob deGrom, but so far it has helped to develop Tyson Miller into a legit MLB SP prospect and bring Danny Hultzen back from the dead.
Jackstraw 13 hours 51 min ago (view)
I was watching the golf waiting for the Cubs to start and of course I fell asleep and then I had the weirdest dream. The Cubs were getting no hit but Darvish was pitching really well and then Jansen blew a save and then Strop actually closed the game out without a guy getting into scoring position. It's not like any of that stuff except the no hitter part could happen.
Sonicwind75 21 hours 34 min ago (view)
Yes indeed, feels like the Cubs stole one. Helluva 9th and another Darvish no decision. Could really use a few more starts like tonight from Darvish.
crunch 21 hours 39 min ago (view)
sweet f'n win. also, MIL lost.
cubs and brewers tied for 1st.