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 1 hour 6 min ago (view)
Hoping that Rizzo's back won't be a problem.
crunch 4 hours 19 min ago (view)
arizona summer league from the distant east coast point of view is an interesting baseball sideshow for the most part, but that AZL 1 vs 2 game sounds awesome. the players and coaches have to be stoked for that one.
Arizona Phil 6 hours 24 min ago (view)
18-year old SS Luis Verdugo last ten games for AZL Cubs #2 (45 PA): 429/467/881 with four doubles, five HR, and 18 RBI, including three three-hit games and one four-hit game among the ten games.
As I mentioned at the start of the AZL season in June, Verdugo is the Cubs top prospect in the AZL (see my comment in this thread from June 15th).
Arizona Phil 6 hours 25 min ago (view)
Both AZL Cubs #2 and AZL Athletics Gold win (big) in their games Saturday night and Dodgers Mota clinches one of the two remaining playoff slots with a win while Royals and Padres #1 lose.
So it's AZL Cubs #1 vs AZL Cubs #2 at Sloan Park Sunday afternoon (with game-time temperatures 110+), with Benjamin Rodriguez scheduled to pitch for Cubs #1 and Carlos Ocampo scheduled to start for Cubs #2. (Richard Gallardo and Benjamin Rodriguez are the Cubs top two pitching prospects in the AZL, so Cubs #2 will have their hands full).
crunch 7 hours 36 min ago (view)
oscar de la cruz since passing through waivers unclaimed...8 relief appearances
11.2ip 11h 2bb 16k, 2r/er (both earned runs in 1 appearance)
crunch 12 hours 40 min ago (view)
it's kinda crazy to think there's a chance pedro strop won't make the post season roster (yeah, the cubs have to get there first) unless he shows something different the next 5 weeks. it's been hard to watch.
crunch 16 hours 20 min ago (view)
yeah, and evidently they can't pitch either.
now we need a few stupid baserunning mistakes to go with this new look.
crunch 16 hours 29 min ago (view)
cubs can't field or hit anymore.
this is not a good late-season look.
Dolorous Jon Lester 16 hours 59 min ago (view)
What happened to Danny Hultzen this time??
crunch 16 hours 59 min ago (view)
Jackstraw 17 hours 9 min ago (view)
All whites are distinctive. And ugly.
Arizona Phil 17 hours 54 min ago (view)
There should be a number of good players and pitchers available off Outright Assignment Waivers over the next few days as non-contending clubs look to jettison payroll even if they can't get players back. The only problem is that the claiming club assumes 100% of the player's remaining pro-rated salary (albeit only one month's worth, unless the player is signed beyond 2019 and/or has a post-season buy-out).
Arizona Phil 18 hours 38 min ago (view)
BTW, Danny Zardon (signed by the Cubs out of Independent ball during Minor League Camp in March and converted from 3B to catcher at EXST) is now being converted to RHP in the AZL.
Arizona Phil 18 hours 38 min ago (view)
The AZL regular season concludes on Monday and the playoffs start on Tuesday and although AZL Cubs #1 has been eliminated, AZL Cubs #2 is right in the middle of the race to get one of the last two playoff slots.
Arizona Phil 20 hours 13 min ago (view)
Today is the last day of the DSL regular season. Neither DSL Cubs #1 nor DSL Cubs #2 qualified for the DSL playoffs.
Arizona Phil 1 day 8 hours ago (view)
RHP Kelvin Abreu (April 2019 IFA - Venezuela) had his contract voided and he has been released. He spent his entire pro career (four months) on the Restricted List.