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 2 hours 37 min ago (view)
"Per ESPN.com's Jeff Passan, Major League Baseball's executive council has granted the Rays permission to explore a plan that would allow them to start the season playing home games in Tampa Bay and finish their home schedule in Montreal. "
Jackstraw 4 hours 5 min ago (view)
Chatwood announced as starter for tonight, but since Alzolay was scheduled to go for Iowa today I don't think it's a fluke he was called up. He could piggyback nicely after Chatwood throws 96 pitches in 4 innings with 9 Ks and 5 walks.
Arizona Phil 5 hours 44 min ago (view)
The Cubs could give Alzolay three starts (6/20 vs NYM, 6/25 vs ATL, and 6/30 at CIN), then option him to the minors on 7/1 when (presumably) Craig Kimbrel and Tony Barnette are brought up, then leave Alzolay at Iowa for 14 days through the All-Star Break, and recall him to start the game on 7/15 or 7/16 vs CIN (if Hendricks isn't ready to come off the IL after the ASB).
Arizona Phil 5 hours 55 min ago (view)
The thing about Tim Collins is that because he has Article XIX-A rights (he has accrued at least five years of MLB Service Time), he must give his consent each time he is optioned or outrighted to the minors, and while he obviously did give his consent when he was optioned to the minors after being signed in March and then again in April and again in May after brief call-ups to MLB, he is no longer willing to do it, and so to get him off the 25-man roster, the Cubs have no choice but to release him (if he isn't traded or claimed off waivers sometime in the next seven days).
George Altman 17 hours 14 min ago (view)
The Adbert Alzolay era begins tomorrow. Collins DFAd
Eric S 18 hours 25 min ago (view)
Ozzie Albies routinely loses his helmet while running the bases - his helmet even has a parody twitter account.
crunch 18 hours 29 min ago (view)
MIL lost, so the cubs are in 1st by a half game.
Arizona Phil 18 hours 31 min ago (view)
The Cubs have released LHRP Brian Duensing.
Duensing was sent outright to AAA Iowa at the end of Spring Training (because he has Article XIX-A rights Duensing had to consent to the assignment), and was placed on the I-Cubs 7-day IL on May 12th.
So the Cubs are on the hook for Duensing's entire $3.5M salary, unless he signs a major league contract with another club (not too likely).
Arizona Phil 18 hours 36 min ago (view)
The Cubs have signed second-contract FA RHRP Willians Vasquez to a minor league contract and he has been assigned to DSL Cubs #2.
Now 22, W. Vasquez was signed by the Atlanta Braves as an 18-year old J-2 IFA out of Venezuela in 2015, and he spent three seasons in the DSL prior to being released by the Braves this past February.
crunch 19 hours 36 min ago (view)
lester goes 5.2ip and gives up 3 runs. it wasn't pretty, but it wasn't ugly.
crunch 19 hours 51 min ago (view)
Charlie 19 hours 53 min ago (view)
He loves it almost as much as Javy loves insisting on replays.
crunch 20 hours 7 min ago (view)
...and a flawless throw to nail t.anderson trying to steal 3rd.
crunch 20 hours 18 min ago (view)
is there anyone in baseball who loves to shed their helmet while running as much as almora?
crunch 20 hours 47 min ago (view)
...and a solo HR. all 5 RBIs belong to him after 3 innings.
crunch 21 hours 24 min ago (view)
contreras grand slam!
3rd of his cubs career.