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 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).

Comments

Love it!

Thanks PHIL. Man, the Packers have talent, and Rogers of course, but like the Cardinals they get every possible break in big games. Hail Marys, no calls, on and on.

I don't understand why teams only rush 3 in hail mary situations. It gives the receivers time to get downfield and get position (and offensive pass interference is never, ever called, which is ridiculous) and gives the QB time and room to step into a long throw. Blitz and rush 5 or 6 guys, particularly with the pass rushers the Giants have -- you still have at least 5 in coverage.

manny ramirez is going to play indie ball...in japan. a'ite then.

Probably angling to try to get a single MLB plate appearance to reset his HOF clock. That's exactly what I would do in his situation.

Not happening, all he did was take a job from Ryan Howard

An 18-month prison sentence has been handed a man found guilty of defrauding the Chicago Cubs out of the team's cut of revenues from his rooftop club near Wrigley Field. http://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/18439305/1...

Cubs Up Likeablitlity Factor x1000

@MaryAnnAhernNBC Breaking: Confirmed! Cubs to White House Monday before #ObamaFarewell

Fuck off Trump!

Ha! Lifelong Sox fan. Total class. Total opposite of the new guy coming in. What an interesting next 4 years it will be. I hope many of you have health insurance through your companies. If not now, try to apply to Starbucks, Trader Joes, or Ho Foods before the boom gets lowered.

This is not a political site, but I am scared to death about the next 4 years!

I dread the last eight. So much for our fears. One thing I do know is that Obama has not been a Sox fan all his life. He lived in Hawaii till he was six, then in Jakarta till ten, then back to Hawaii for high school. He went to Occidental College in LA for college and finished at Columbia (NYC), then to Harvard Law. So far no Chicago, not till he taught for a while in the law school at U of C. Edit: actually he community-organized in Chicago on the south side beginning in 1985, when he was 24. This was before law school.

Len and JD signed a new extension for 3 more years. Nice!

"Joe Maddon wrote down a lineup today for the first time. With a righty on the mound he had Kyle Schwarber leading off followed by Bryant, Rizzo and Zobrist. He emphasized it's a January lineup."

Does anyone still think Jay is going to be the everyday leadoff man against RHP? I never thought that would be the case, so maybe this is just reinforcing my pre-existing notion?

Schwarber, Heyward, Zobrist (LF, CF, RF)

Bryant, Russell, Baez, Rizzo (3B, SS, 2B, 1B)

Contreras (C)

That's my guess on the most common lineup, which with Maddon is maybe 60% of the time.  Bryant, Rizzo and Russell see 150+ games, Heyward maybe if he finds his groove. Zobrist sees a few more days off as he's getting older but still in the 140 range with Baez. Guessing Jay gets in around 110 games.

Guessing they'd really like some more SP soon or maybe they're counting on some of the Iowa guys to be ready by mid-season or spring training cuts. Guessing they'd like to see a few stints of a 6-man rotation to curb innings considering last year's playoffs and hopefully another run this year.

on that note...Maddon just benched Baez :)

@CarrieMuskat Here's the rest of Maddon's January #Cubs lineup: Schwarber, Bryant, Rizzo, Zo, Russell, Heyward, Contreras, Jay or Almora, pitcher.

Maddon also said he's considering having the pitcher bat 8th again to help set up Schwarber with more RBI chances. #Cubs

Rob G -- I think/hope the same thing, which is why I didn't really get signing Jay (for $8MM). If you assume 6 guys play most days -- Contreras, Rizzo, Addy, KB, Heyward and Zobrist -- that leaves 2 spots for Schwarber, Baez, Almora & Jay. I know which 2 get my vote. Almora can be the 4th OF, and Szczur can be the 5th. Really don't get the Jay signing, particularly since Maddon has given no indication that he considers him a leadoff candidate (and may bat him 9th). Maybe Jay is insurance for Schwarber's knee/JHey's rebound/Javy's inconsistency? All faith in Theo/Jed, but it just seems a weird move.

Suppose with losing Fowler they wanted a left-handed bat...doubt Szczur is a Cub this year. Jay's a reasonable CF insurance with Almora if Heyward doesn't get it  going. Sounds like the plan is for Baez to be a bench guy to start season but I just doubt that lasts too long. 

Regardless, we know how quickly things can change and injuries and Maddon will use them all.

You guys keep saying you wonder why they went after Jay since there's no room in the lineup. Why not assume that they got him for the lineup rather than a reserve role? Jay appears, after all, in the only lineup card that Maddon or anyone else "in the know" has revealed. Since Jay bats left, I assume that Jay/Almora will usually resolve to Jay. Also, I don't think this has been discussed here and it may spark a lively debate: in my opinion, Maddon does the batting order but Epstein and Hoyer decide who plays, not just who makes the roster. I'm not saying the front office weighs in every day but I'm sure they give Maddon guidance. They're his bosses. I can't imagine that they sign a player or trade for a player just so the manager can park him on the bench. In general, people attribute more juice to the manager than he possesses. Look at the org chart.

The Cubs strongly value depth. Over a 162 game season everyone is going to play.

You guys keep saying you wonder why they went after Jay since there's no room in the lineup.

I don't recall saying or thinking that. He makes sense as a CF some of the time, maybe a lot of the time depending on how things play out. I don't know if Heyward will bounce back and I don't know who will get injured. He's there, he'll play...exactly how much will be determined. He hasn't gotten over 100 games in 2 seasons and he's 32. 

more stuff from Maddon:

@CSNMooney At Dabo Swinney's request, Joe Maddon filmed a Try Not to Suck video message for Clemson's football team before title-game win over Alabama.

There was a quote from Clemson quarterback after yesterday on Twitter we should all be familiar with, : "Don't permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure of the moment."

Also,

Maddon brushed off post-World Series griping from Montero and Chapman: “It’s unfortunate that they felt they had to discuss it that way..." Maddon expects to address Montero's post-parade interview on @WaddleandSilvy at some point: “I’m sure we’ll talk. Miggy likes to talk.”

Cubs White House Monday CSN noon http://www.csnchicago.com/chicago-cubs/csn-cs...

Former Cub great Matt Garza and birth control http://deadspin.com/matt-garza-shares-opinion...

"Cubs and RHP Justin Grimm avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $1.825 million contract." "Cubs and RHP Hector Rondon avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $5.8 million contract."

Tyson Ross signs with the Rangers...1 year deal.

I could understand a low base salary with mega-incentives for 2017 and a high-ticket club option with buy-out for 2018, but a reported one-year contract worth $6M guaranteed (plus incentives) and no second year club option for a pitcher coming off Thoracic Outlet surgery? Yikes!

Apparently starting pitching is really a "seller's market" right now. 

teams have money to burn and he'll be subjected to a QO if he's good.  $6M is a set-up man in today's costs. Don't mind the Cubs passing up that offer, but it's not unreasonable for the upside it gets them.

That being said, not a lot of history of pitchers being themselves after Thoracic Outlet surgery so we'll see.

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  • crunch 4 min 55 sec ago (view)

    if bryant wasn't looking less and less like a 3rd baseman, it would probably be an even or less trade given the cost difference between the 2 guys.  it's not been so slick the past couple years for bryant with the glove meanwhile arenado does nothing but win gold gloves.

    bryant has 2 years of club control and arenado can opt out after 2021.

    that said, i dunno if the cubs have the $$ space to take on a $35m/yr contract with or without the risk of him opting out.

     

  • Charlie 1 hour 24 min ago (view)

    Shouldn't it take less than Bryant, given Arenado's opt out? I guess the Rockies could be asking for more, but it wouldn't make sense.

     

  • Eric S 2 hours 57 min ago (view)

    Has he gone so far as calling the Rox front office namby-pambies yet?  There's only so much a front office can take before it snaps. 

     

  • crunch 3 hours 42 min ago (view)

    n.arenado continues to go very hard on COL front office.  he's careful not to turn on the fans, but he's burning the hell out of every other bridge to the point they may trade him just to not hear about it too much longer.  he's not shy at all about airing it out for the media.

    if the cubs want him, it will most likely take more than just k.bryant.

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/columnis...

     

  • Arizona Phil 20 hours 3 min ago (view)

    The Cubs have officially signed C-1B Alberto Mineo to a 2020 minor league contract and he has been assigned to AA Tennessee. 

    A native of Italy, Mineo was signed by the Cubs as a 16 year old J-2 IFA in November 2010. He was one of three players signed by the Cubs out of the MLB European Academy in Turin, Italy in the years 2008-10 (Italian RHP Alex Maestri and  Dutch INF Dwayne Kemp were the other two).

     

  • Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 5 hours ago (view)

    No argument there. Plays an excellent violin though.

     

  • crunch 1 day 17 hours ago (view)

    https://images.spot.im/v1/production/gsqady7hf53k5duw7hhf

     

  • tim815 1 day 17 hours ago (view)

    He's better than Taylor Davis.

     

  • Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 18 hours ago (view)

    He's at a career juncture where I think he is a toss up of he is who he is or there's a little more left for him to achieve. Playing this as his age 27 season he is either in or damn close to his peak. I personally think he doesn't need the everyday playing time, just based on the fact that he's not a top prospect, is older, and doesn't project to be a starter at any spot for a first division team.

     

  • Charlie 1 day 19 hours ago (view)

    This is the take if you see him as a legit prospect. Which, maybe? I know little about him, and his numbers in limited AAA exposure last season were really nice. Maybe a lively ball helps his career.

     

  • bradsbeard 1 day 19 hours ago (view)

    Sounds like a long shot to get a trade done then. Thanks for clarifying!

     

  • Arizona Phil 1 day 19 hours ago (view)

    BRADSBEARD: Before making a trade with the Rule 5 Draft pick's former club, the drafting club must first place the player on Outright Assignment Waivers and any of the other MLB clubs can claim the player for the $50,000 waiver price and assume the Rule 5 Draft obligations (actually it's Rule 6 Selected Player obligations, but you know what I mean). 

     

  • bradsbeard 1 day 21 hours ago (view)

    AZ Phil, the "work out a trade" part of Rule 5 is still a mystery to me. Do the Cubs have to put Megill through waivers and (if he clears) offer him back to SD before they can trade for him?

     

  • Arizona Phil 1 day 21 hours ago (view)

    For those of you who didn't see the game, here are the pitch-velo readings from Wednsdays Cubs - Royals game: 

    Kyle Hendricks: 
    FB: 84-87 
    CH: 77-80 
    CV: 78-80
    NOTES: An amazing pitcher... he's probably in mid-season form right now...  just needs to gradually increase innings...   

    Alec Mills: 
    FB: 89-92 
    SL: 80-82 
    CH: 77-80 
    CV: 66-70 
    NOTES: A legit candidate to be the 5th starter 

     

  • Craig A. 1 day 22 hours ago (view)

    he

     

  • Craig A. 1 day 22 hours ago (view)

    He'll be 27 in May and he's played in 36 games at AAA. Seems like he should be playing regularly.