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 52 min 8 sec ago (view)

    don't worry, i'm sure even though he was spared from cuts there's some hardship he's being tortured with that he has to unfairly overcome.  #coreystrong #onthecross #yolo #swag #kony2012

     

  • crunch 53 min 40 sec ago (view)

    there's no way a system like that or something similar to that would work.

    "oh hi." - green bay packers

    *shoves out of way*

    like i said, there's no way that would work.

     

  • Hagsag 3 hours 49 min ago (view)

    Corey Black still has a job.

     

  • Charlie 3 hours 57 min ago (view)

    I am ready for MLB owners to give it a f***ing rest. I don't have any outrage to spare on them.

    If they can't afford this crisis, maybe they can surrender franchise rights to the players, grounds crew, concession employees, etc., and MLB teams can be employee owned.

     

  • Dolorous Jon Lester 8 hours 10 min ago (view)

    Couldn't have said it better myself, unfortunately.

     

  • JustSayin' 16 hours 38 min ago (view)

    These players weren't cut/released; laid off is more like it. Fifty-two minor leaguers let go before any real games played, in two waves. The draft will be five rounds this year, not forty.  This is industrial downsizing, anticipating no traditional season this year and capitulation to MLB demands for a much smaller minor league system in 2021.  Next year or 2022 could also see a labor stoppage in the big leagues, over what promises to be a very tough CBA negotiation.  The game will not be what it used to be after this.

     

  • crunch 20 hours 26 min ago (view)

    i don't blame the ownership/font office for doing what they did with bryant.  it was just kinda bad timing that bryant was the client that boras was finally "i'm sick of this" over.  the cubs were warned that boras was going to make a stand and it dragged on so long there has to be some kind of toll on the boras/cubs relationship.

     

  • bigsky33 20 hours 33 min ago (view)

    Hi Phil, yes, hoping for an extended AZ Fall League.  Do you think there will be more cuts?  De La Cruz was the only big sureprise to me. I thought he had some upside. 

     

  • Dolorous Jon Lester 22 hours 26 min ago (view)

    It'll be more over when Kris leaves. Or whenever the same thing happens to another of his clients.

    He isn't wrong though...

     

  • Arizona Phil 22 hours 38 min ago (view)

    Presuming there is no traditional minor league season in 2020, expect an expanded Arizona Fall League (with potentially a new "Florida Fall League" as well) for the best prospects and expanded post-season instructs for other minor leaguers (all TBA). 

     

  • Arizona Phil 22 hours 50 min ago (view)

    My understanding is that the other two Cubs minor leaguers who are to be released are the two post-2019 Article XX-B MLB free-agents who signed 2020 minor league contracts, Brandon Morrow and Jason Kipnis. The Cubs will then supposedly re-sign them to new minor league contracts without the $100K retention bonus and 6/1 opt-out. 

     

  • Arizona Phil 22 hours 53 min ago (view)

    CRUNCH: Agreed. Not counting the "4-A" guys, Oscar de la Cruz is the one legit MLB prospect on the list.  

     

  • crunch 22 hours 58 min ago (view)

    aww...de la cruz had some decent looking spring outings (though late inning spring work isn't exactly challenging).  the years of injuries insanely slowed his progression.  totally wouldn't mind seeing him return in 2021 if the team would still be on his radar after getting cut at a time like this.

     

  • crunch 1 day 19 min ago (view)

    that whole "kris bryant thing" is over...but it's never going to be over as long as this ownership group and boras is around.

    boras could have focused this on 29 other teams, especially the more vocal ones because the cubs have been mostly silent.  the cubs aren't the only team out there paying off "creatively financed" loans, either.

    he chose the cubs.

     

  • Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 5 hours ago (view)

    Not looking forward to seeing that list. Hate to see it when a guy you've invested any sort of energy in is given up on.

     

  • Cubster 1 day 5 hours ago (view)

    Chi Tribune today. Boras picks, and focused on the Ricketts. 

    Headline writer, fun job: Agent won’t let Cubs get away Scott-free Matt York/AP and Paul Sullivan.

    Boras told his players “the game can not be played without you” and asked them to share the concept with teammates and opposing players when “MLB requests further concessions or deferral of salaries” during negotiations.