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 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).

Comments

Love it!

Thanks PHIL. Man, the Packers have talent, and Rogers of course, but like the Cardinals they get every possible break in big games. Hail Marys, no calls, on and on.

I don't understand why teams only rush 3 in hail mary situations. It gives the receivers time to get downfield and get position (and offensive pass interference is never, ever called, which is ridiculous) and gives the QB time and room to step into a long throw. Blitz and rush 5 or 6 guys, particularly with the pass rushers the Giants have -- you still have at least 5 in coverage.

manny ramirez is going to play indie ball...in japan. a'ite then.

Probably angling to try to get a single MLB plate appearance to reset his HOF clock. That's exactly what I would do in his situation.

Not happening, all he did was take a job from Ryan Howard

An 18-month prison sentence has been handed a man found guilty of defrauding the Chicago Cubs out of the team's cut of revenues from his rooftop club near Wrigley Field. http://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/18439305/1...

Cubs Up Likeablitlity Factor x1000

@MaryAnnAhernNBC Breaking: Confirmed! Cubs to White House Monday before #ObamaFarewell

Fuck off Trump!

Ha! Lifelong Sox fan. Total class. Total opposite of the new guy coming in. What an interesting next 4 years it will be. I hope many of you have health insurance through your companies. If not now, try to apply to Starbucks, Trader Joes, or Ho Foods before the boom gets lowered.

This is not a political site, but I am scared to death about the next 4 years!

I dread the last eight. So much for our fears. One thing I do know is that Obama has not been a Sox fan all his life. He lived in Hawaii till he was six, then in Jakarta till ten, then back to Hawaii for high school. He went to Occidental College in LA for college and finished at Columbia (NYC), then to Harvard Law. So far no Chicago, not till he taught for a while in the law school at U of C. Edit: actually he community-organized in Chicago on the south side beginning in 1985, when he was 24. This was before law school.

Len and JD signed a new extension for 3 more years. Nice!

"Joe Maddon wrote down a lineup today for the first time. With a righty on the mound he had Kyle Schwarber leading off followed by Bryant, Rizzo and Zobrist. He emphasized it's a January lineup."

Does anyone still think Jay is going to be the everyday leadoff man against RHP? I never thought that would be the case, so maybe this is just reinforcing my pre-existing notion?

Schwarber, Heyward, Zobrist (LF, CF, RF)

Bryant, Russell, Baez, Rizzo (3B, SS, 2B, 1B)

Contreras (C)

That's my guess on the most common lineup, which with Maddon is maybe 60% of the time.  Bryant, Rizzo and Russell see 150+ games, Heyward maybe if he finds his groove. Zobrist sees a few more days off as he's getting older but still in the 140 range with Baez. Guessing Jay gets in around 110 games.

Guessing they'd really like some more SP soon or maybe they're counting on some of the Iowa guys to be ready by mid-season or spring training cuts. Guessing they'd like to see a few stints of a 6-man rotation to curb innings considering last year's playoffs and hopefully another run this year.

on that note...Maddon just benched Baez :)

@CarrieMuskat Here's the rest of Maddon's January #Cubs lineup: Schwarber, Bryant, Rizzo, Zo, Russell, Heyward, Contreras, Jay or Almora, pitcher.

Maddon also said he's considering having the pitcher bat 8th again to help set up Schwarber with more RBI chances. #Cubs

Rob G -- I think/hope the same thing, which is why I didn't really get signing Jay (for $8MM). If you assume 6 guys play most days -- Contreras, Rizzo, Addy, KB, Heyward and Zobrist -- that leaves 2 spots for Schwarber, Baez, Almora & Jay. I know which 2 get my vote. Almora can be the 4th OF, and Szczur can be the 5th. Really don't get the Jay signing, particularly since Maddon has given no indication that he considers him a leadoff candidate (and may bat him 9th). Maybe Jay is insurance for Schwarber's knee/JHey's rebound/Javy's inconsistency? All faith in Theo/Jed, but it just seems a weird move.

Suppose with losing Fowler they wanted a left-handed bat...doubt Szczur is a Cub this year. Jay's a reasonable CF insurance with Almora if Heyward doesn't get it  going. Sounds like the plan is for Baez to be a bench guy to start season but I just doubt that lasts too long. 

Regardless, we know how quickly things can change and injuries and Maddon will use them all.

You guys keep saying you wonder why they went after Jay since there's no room in the lineup. Why not assume that they got him for the lineup rather than a reserve role? Jay appears, after all, in the only lineup card that Maddon or anyone else "in the know" has revealed. Since Jay bats left, I assume that Jay/Almora will usually resolve to Jay. Also, I don't think this has been discussed here and it may spark a lively debate: in my opinion, Maddon does the batting order but Epstein and Hoyer decide who plays, not just who makes the roster. I'm not saying the front office weighs in every day but I'm sure they give Maddon guidance. They're his bosses. I can't imagine that they sign a player or trade for a player just so the manager can park him on the bench. In general, people attribute more juice to the manager than he possesses. Look at the org chart.

The Cubs strongly value depth. Over a 162 game season everyone is going to play.

You guys keep saying you wonder why they went after Jay since there's no room in the lineup.

I don't recall saying or thinking that. He makes sense as a CF some of the time, maybe a lot of the time depending on how things play out. I don't know if Heyward will bounce back and I don't know who will get injured. He's there, he'll play...exactly how much will be determined. He hasn't gotten over 100 games in 2 seasons and he's 32. 

more stuff from Maddon:

@CSNMooney At Dabo Swinney's request, Joe Maddon filmed a Try Not to Suck video message for Clemson's football team before title-game win over Alabama.

There was a quote from Clemson quarterback after yesterday on Twitter we should all be familiar with, : "Don't permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure of the moment."

Also,

Maddon brushed off post-World Series griping from Montero and Chapman: “It’s unfortunate that they felt they had to discuss it that way..." Maddon expects to address Montero's post-parade interview on @WaddleandSilvy at some point: “I’m sure we’ll talk. Miggy likes to talk.”

Cubs White House Monday CSN noon http://www.csnchicago.com/chicago-cubs/csn-cs...

Former Cub great Matt Garza and birth control http://deadspin.com/matt-garza-shares-opinion...

"Cubs and RHP Justin Grimm avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $1.825 million contract." "Cubs and RHP Hector Rondon avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $5.8 million contract."

Tyson Ross signs with the Rangers...1 year deal.

I could understand a low base salary with mega-incentives for 2017 and a high-ticket club option with buy-out for 2018, but a reported one-year contract worth $6M guaranteed (plus incentives) and no second year club option for a pitcher coming off Thoracic Outlet surgery? Yikes!

Apparently starting pitching is really a "seller's market" right now. 

teams have money to burn and he'll be subjected to a QO if he's good.  $6M is a set-up man in today's costs. Don't mind the Cubs passing up that offer, but it's not unreasonable for the upside it gets them.

That being said, not a lot of history of pitchers being themselves after Thoracic Outlet surgery so we'll see.

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  • crunch 1 day 10 hours ago (view)

    j.girardi did a 2nd interview with PHI on Monday and he's supposedly the favorite for the job.

     

  • bradsbeard 1 day 15 hours ago (view)

    The draft over the ASB and the trade deadline pushed back until August 15th or so would make sense. Otherwise, I don't know how scouting departments are going to handle the draft lead up and the trade deadline running almost simultaneously.  

     

  • Arizona Phil 1 day 15 hours ago (view)

    One other thing about MLB player development that is very different from NFL, NBA, and NHL player development is that most MLB clubs have upwards of 300 minor league players under contract (not including players on their MLB 40-man roster, the Cubs presently have 301 minor leaguers under contract on nine minor league affiliates).

     

  • Arizona Phil 1 day 15 hours ago (view)

    JUST SAYIN: MLB is the only one of the four major North American professional sports that holds its draft and signs its draft picks during the season.

     

  • crunch 2 days 15 min ago (view)

    umpire eric cooper has died...complications from knee surgery (blood clot)...52 years old

     

  • crunch 2 days 11 hours ago (view)

    "MLB Network's Jon Heyman reports former player David Ross and Astros bench coach Joe Espada "appear to be the frontrunners" for the Cubs' managerial opening."

    espada's had 2 interviews.  for a guy who's actively at his "other job," having a 2nd interview seems like both sides want to make this work.  SF and PIT are also supposedly interested in espada.

     

  • JustSayin' 2 days 13 hours ago (view)

     That's a fair description of the benefits of the plan but If I have to choose between "better way" and "owners' greed," I pick the latter.  MLB wants better MiLB facilities, on average, without paying a cent.  They want to deal with the social and legal pressure they are getting for not even paying minor league players minimum wage per real hour worked by having less players.  In addition, the draft is to be moved to late August, so every draftee would lose compensation for the stub year in which they are drafted.  For this reason, I'm not sure your point about col

     

  • Hagsag 2 days 13 hours ago (view)

    Thanks Mr. Phil.

     

  • Arizona Phil 2 days 14 hours ago (view)

    HAGSAG: Besides reducing the costs that are associated with operating a minor league club, reducing the number of minor league affiliates would allow MLB organizations to increase the salaries of their remainng minor league players (who would be the organization's most-legit prospects) without having to increase the organization's aggregate minor league payroll. 

     

  • crunch 2 days 15 hours ago (view)

    The discussions on this matter have been quite varried.  There seems to be a lot of pressure connected to this on minor league team owners who haven't upgraded their facilities/park in a while or who lag in quality compared to their competitors.

    It seems like this would not only cause some teams to fold, but some radical redistribution of existing teams/cities into new minor league levels rather than just pruning some teams over others.

     

  • Hagsag 3 days 3 hours ago (view)

    AZ Phil, what are your thoughts on the discussion to eliminate 42 low minor league teams in 2021? What would this do to the Dominican League? Thanks.

     

  • crunch 3 days 9 hours ago (view)

    yanks/astros game 6 was a f'n classic.  wow.

    altuve continues to build his astros legend.

     

  • bradsbeard 3 days 23 hours ago (view)

    Thanks for this. I agree they’ll probably take their chances in the Rule 5 if he will resign, though I really wouldn’t mind adding him back to the 40 man. I feel like he has a good chance to be effective out of the bullpen. 

     

  • bradsbeard 3 days 23 hours ago (view)

    I hope Sagara doesn’t end up leaving because of the shakeup. The Athletic did report that his position might be eliminated but that he should be offered another role in the organization somewhere. All I know is Sagara’s name came up frequently in connection with the pitch lab, and he was credited for improvements with Ryan, Wick, and Wieck. Maybe he’ll end up focusing more specifically in that role helping guys tweak things in the lab. 

     

  • JustSayin' 4 days 11 hours ago (view)

    Does anyone have insight into the new management hires and musical chairs the Cubs announced yesterday?  Craig Breslow might be the only guy out there with extensive MLB experience AND the grey matter to challenge any quant not making sense. His role intrigues me but are they going to give him real responsibility to clear out the deadwood (including the existing minor league coordinator who was never good enough to be the pitchers he's coaching?)  Or, is this a superficial change aimed at keeping ownership off Theo's back? 

     

  • Arizona Phil 4 days 12 hours ago (view)

    BRADSBEARD: I think the Cubs want to retain Oscar de la Cruz post-2019, just not on the MLB 40-man roster.