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).
Arizona Phil 2 hours 18 min ago (view)
AZL Cubs #2 RHSP Willy Cabrera, RHSP Danis Correa, LHRP Riger Fernandez, and LHRP Josh Sawyer to the 60-day Injured List, so they are likely out for year (they won't be eligible to be reinstated until the final week of the AZL season).
crunch 2 hours 24 min ago (view)
...and of course it's eloy that gives the WSox the 9th inning lead.
Charlie 3 hours 37 min ago (view)
Speaking from experience, those can nag.
crunch 4 hours 15 min ago (view)
ham gets 2500 Ks in the top 3rd.
crunch 4 hours 22 min ago (view)
Jordan Bastian @MLBastian
GM Jed Hoyer said Hendricks is dealing with an impingement in his throwing shoulder: "I feel like we got ahead of it. We're not sure how much time he'll miss, but we'll try to take it slow and take the length of the season into account."
crunch 5 hours 45 min ago (view)
schwarber / bryant / rizzo / baez / heyward(CF) / caratini / cargo(RF) / ham / descalso(2nd)
Eric S 7 hours 19 min ago (view)
Kimbrel pitched the 7th inning for the Iowa Cubs today - he threw 8 pitches (6 strikes) to three batters getting a fly out to center, a groundout to third and swinging K. Nice start!
Karl Pagel Blues 8 hours 48 min ago (view)
Thank you, Phil. Have you ever considered doing your own podcast? Your grasp on baseball history is fantastic.
Karl Pagel Blues 8 hours 55 min ago (view)
Thank you, Mike.
Mike Wellman 17 hours 54 min ago (view)
And 71 games in, the C-Cubs & I-Cubs are in a dead heat @ 39-32...
Craig A. 20 hours 29 min ago (view)
Thanks very much, Phil.
Arizona Phil 22 hours 37 min ago (view)
CRAIG A: SS Ernie Banks and 2B Gene Baker arrived on the same day in September 1953, although Banks made his MLB game debut three days before Baker.
crunch 1 day 40 min ago (view)
i think gene baker was technically the first signed, but ernie banks was the first to suit up and play. baker was injured when ernie made his debut.
JoePepitone 1 day 44 min ago (view)
He only mentioned his second wife in his autobiography, Mr. Cub. I was surprised to find out from his Wikipedia page that he had been married before Eloyce (wife #2), having read Mr. Cub back in 1971 right after it came out. I guess when you write your autobiography, you get to put in only the parts you want to talk about.
Craig A. 1 day 1 hour ago (view)
Banks was the first African- American Cub wasn’t he? Was there a lot of drama with that?
BobbyD 1 day 2 hours ago (view)
He was a hero to me growing up, and now maybe not so much. Sad and probably (?) better how things have changed. I'm sure in the 60s whatever Addison did would have never bubbled up to us fans... But thanks for the review-so-far!