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).
crunch 7 hours 32 min ago (view)
i forgot about these types of update posts...thanks for the breakdowns. they're really useful.
strong agreement on the mess t.olson was throwing. he didn't even look happy with himself out there.
Arizona Phil 7 hours 32 min ago (view)
I know most of you saw the game or will be seeing the game, but for anyone else who might be interested, here are the Cubs pitchers velo readings from Saturday night's game:
NOTES: Nice mix of pitches... Mills obviously comes from the "I'm a pitcher not a thrower" school, all of which means command & control matters a lot and he had both tonight... a legit candidate for the Cubs #5 SP slot...
crunch 8 hours 32 min ago (view)
hell of a 1st game. even the good and bad mean nothing this early in spring, but it was a nice one. i'm not worried about rizzo misplaying a couple balls in the first innings, nor do i think bote is on his way to a batting title. spring is meaningless enough without trying to read into february spring games. it was a fun watch, though.
my biggest regret is not seeing souza chase down any plays in LF while he was in the game. that's something i really would like to see this early in spring.
Dolorous Jon Lester 9 hours 22 min ago (view)
I also hope they edit it for the season. doesn't list pitcher or hitter or pitches thrown.
crunch 10 hours 30 min ago (view)
"i'm feeling right at home." - mark grace
crunch 10 hours 37 min ago (view)
really not a big fan of the marquee network's score bug graphic location.
crunch 12 hours 8 min ago (view)
d.ross got sent home with flu-like symptoms, andy green managing...
crunch 12 hours 17 min ago (view)
cubs coming out big for their marquee network debut lineup...
bryant / rizzo / baez / heyward / contreras / kipnis / souza (LF) / bote (DH) / almora...mills pitching
Arizona Phil 16 hours 2 min ago (view)
Besides Quintero, Altuve, and Made, a fourth significant IFA signing by the Cubs during the off-season was 16 year old Dominican CF Anderson Suriel. He played for the Dominican 15U World Cup team in 2018.
Arizona Phil 16 hours 2 min ago (view)
Contrary to reports, 2019-20 IFA J-2 C Brayan Altuve was -NOT - signed by the Cubs in July. The Cubs did not have enough ISBP room initially to fit in his $1M bonus, so instead he was "officially" signed after the conclusion of the 2019 season, which means the Cubs will get an extra year before Altuve will be Rule 5 Draft eligible (post-2024, instead of post-2023 which would have been the case if he had signed in July).
Arizona Phil 16 hours 10 min ago (view)
CRUNCH: It's still drizzling in Mesa but it's clearing to the southwest (which is where the rain came from) so the Cubs should have at least three hours to get the field ready. The infield is covered, so it's just the outfield that will be wet.
Arizona Phil 16 hours 33 min ago (view)
As things stand right now, 109 pitchers and 20 catchers are scheduled to report to Cubs Minor League Camp next week.
Arizona Phil 17 hours 11 min ago (view)
Jordan Patterson will not get an NRI to MLB Spring Training but he will likely get considerable playing time in Cubs MLB Cactus League games as he competes with Corban Joseph for AAA Iowa primary 1B.
crunch 18 hours 49 min ago (view)
cubs moving the game up was a wise choice unless the rain lingers very long. everyone else in ARZ is rained out except LA/SF which starts in 4 hours (cubs in 7 hours)...and that LA/SF game still might get rained out because other games in that time slot have been cancelled/postponed (though they posted a lineup for today's game on twitter 10 minutes ago).
speaking of LA, m.betts makes his debut tomorrow vs CHC.
Arizona Phil 19 hours 43 min ago (view)
The Cubs have signed post-2019 minor league 6YFA 1B-OF Jordan Patterson (ex-COL) and RHRP Dario Beltre to 2020 minor league contracts.
Patterson (who has considerable AAA experience and some MLB time as well) was assigned to AAA Iowa and Beltre (who has not pitched above AA in ten minor league seasons) was assigned to AA Tennessee.
Arizona Phil 19 hours 54 min ago (view)
The Cubs have released 13 minor leaguers:
LHP Andres Bonalde
RHP Alfredo Colorado
RHP Julio Guante
OF Albert Hinirio
RHP M. T. Minacci
INF Rafael Narea
INF Herson Perez
RHP Tyler Peyton
RHP Casey Ryan
LHP Saul Vazquez
RHP Omar Ventura
OF Ricardo Verenzuela
OF Brandon Vicens