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).
Eric S 14 hours 53 min ago (view)
Woo Hoo!!! Cubs win a crazy one! KB with another late inning, game winning homer - good stuff!
crunch 14 hours 56 min ago (view)
schwarb set the cubs team record for fastest to 100 by a cub a bit less than a week ago. bryant would have won a couple MVP awards in a row the past couple years.
Eric S 14 hours 58 min ago (view)
That was a good send by the butterman - great throw by Yaz Jr
Try as he might, Eddie Vedder can’t find da butterman
Thanks. I’ll show myself out now
Eric S 15 hours 3 min ago (view)
200th home run of the season by KB probably would have set some kind of record too
crunch 15 hours 5 min ago (view)
the inital graphic was KB #200, but i was like...hold on...
it was technically true in the loosest sense of the phrase.
Eric S 15 hours 11 min ago (view)
That would have been pretty cool if it had been KB’s 200th home run in less than five full seasons!
crunch 15 hours 13 min ago (view)
this game, though...wow...this game.
200th team homer of the season.
Eric S 15 hours 15 min ago (view)
Yes. Just like that
Eric S 15 hours 40 min ago (view)
Funny (ha ha) to remember that at one point in this game Yu had retired 12 straight Giants
crunch 15 hours 40 min ago (view)
"i am required to say it's a see-saw battle." - len
"it's going to come down to the kicking game." - jd
Eric S 15 hours 42 min ago (view)
Oof. The lead off walk - horrible. That second hit allowed (which tied the game) on the ankle high fastball - tuff luck.
crunch 15 hours 48 min ago (view)
oh yeah...so cubs win 21-22 on a walk off bote grand slam...gotcha.
Eric S 15 hours 56 min ago (view)
Sounds about right. Howevuh ... Home Game!
crunch 16 hours 1 min ago (view)
d.holland still sucks.
cubs tied this one out of sheer suck going on both sides of this game. i'm waiting for the cubs to lose this one 18-17 in a few hours.
Eric S 16 hours 10 min ago (view)
Cubs need their three-hole hitter to start stepping up at the plate and do something crazy like driving in the two-hole hitter
Eric S 16 hours 14 min ago (view)
Somebody wake up Grandpa Joe and remind him that having Holland face righties i— any righty — is a no-no