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 6 hours 12 min ago (view)
Cubster, your comments about President Bone Spurs could not be more accurate. Thanks for posting!
BobbyD 17 hours 19 min ago (view)
Cubster: I agree with your comments, save one. That the president is "leading" America. He couldn't lead a pack of rats to a NYC dumpster on an August afternoon. The "man" is a f'ing disgrace.
crunch 19 hours 37 min ago (view)
though the team cheaped out on this offseason (still an overall top-tier payroll), i was at least looking forward to seeing the beginning of the david ross era...and who was going to win the 2nd base job...
nothing about 2020 baseball feels legit anymore. just hearing the players talk about it, you'd think they were organizing a casual pickup game for charity at an inconvient time and place...doesn't seem like they're really stoked about it.
Cubster 20 hours 46 min ago (view)
June 1st is a week from tomorrow. Given 5 weeks of spring training before starting (July 4th?), the season is on the brink of going bye-bye. It's bad enough in 2020 to be losing prime career years for Javy Baez and Kris Bryant, let alone Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber, Kyle Hendricks, and Willson Contreras. If one of them gets coronavirus, loses lung capacity, and alters their career arc, Cub fans will for a long time have a bitter taste in their mouths. All for, at best, a bizarre half-season without fans watching in the ballparks.
Alexander Dimm 1 day 1 hour ago (view)
HAGSAG: I've been following this all spring and I fully agree. Let's not risk the health of these ballplayers. Let's plan for 2021 an be done with 2020. I know that whole game will be changed next year but it's already morphing now. Just start with a clean slate. I don't want scientists watching baseball when they should be working on a vaccine.
Hagsag 1 day 6 hours ago (view)
I love baseball as much as anyone, but I cant see this working. Put the 2020 season on the shelf and plan for 2021.
crunch 1 day 20 hours ago (view)
i still don't understand how any of this retains momentum if a team has an outbreak...
it seems like that would put a pause on things not only effecting the team with the outbreak, but the schedule and future opponents...and past opponents who recently played the team with an outbreak...
if it gets started, hopefully it can roll to end without going off the rails. it all seems so fragile with a lot of moving pieces.
CubbyBlue 1 day 20 hours ago (view)
I wish I felt better about the possibility of baseball this year. All those details - it just seems like something's not going to work. And to me the worst thing that could happen is they get started and 2 weeks later have to shut it down, then try to start it up again.
Baseball's role this summer is meant to uplift, and that scenario feels soul-crushing.
crunch 2 days 17 hours ago (view)
add the bjays to the list...
whatever works to get people paid.
crunch 2 days 19 hours ago (view)
"Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Brewers will keep their baseball operations staff intact for all of 2020.
There will be no furloughs and only top executives in the organization will take pay cuts."
2020 has officially crossed the line now...making me like the brewers...
seriously though, it's about time some of these 100s-millionaire to billionaire owners acted like this.
brewers, wsox, cards, and twins have all promised full pay for employees through june+ (and maybe longer when revisited)
crunch 4 days 17 hours ago (view)
the "slow opening" seems to be starting up this weekend and into next week for a variety of clubs...whether it's the ballpark or training facitlies. most all of the player access seems to be limited to those on the 40-man and nothing mandatory.
nothing for the cubs yet (that i've heard about). chicago is still a bit "hot" but AZ is open for sports...
crunch 1 week 21 hours ago (view)
i can't speak for this or all of the US, but my state govt level safety committee reports kinda shape up like this...and this aggregated view stated below is my own...
we're still technically short for how all pieces of the testing scheme interact with each other on whole, but it's catching up and should be rolling smoothly for a task like this (seems to be a dedicated lab for all MLB) by the time the season is proposed to start.
Hagsag 1 week 1 day ago (view)
They plan on testing 10.000 per week? I thought we were short of tests.
crunch 1 week 1 day ago (view)
i would be surprised to see this go start-to-finish without some kind of stupid drama. it's not that covid is gonna kill a gazillion people while they bleed from their eyes or something...it's that it's so easy to pass it others. if you find one guy positive, chances are pretty high he's taking down a handful of others with him even if they're all good to go in a couple weeks and feel fine during that downtime.
Craig A. 1 week 1 day ago (view)
This is going to be full of surprises. Young players who don't feel that bad may be angry that they can't play. A team may loose several players at once. They'll need a taxi squad that doesn't practice with the main team. Even the best plan can't prepare teams for every possibility.
crunch 1 week 1 day ago (view)
"Jeff Passan of ESPN reports that MLB plans to process upward of 10,000 COVID-19 tests per week, according to a draft of the league's health-and-safety manual.