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 40 min ago (view)
plus, on road trips he's within limitations of carry on luggage size so he doesn't need a ticket. that adds up over time and that's how you end up signing guys like c.kimbrel.
Eric S 8 hours 7 min ago (view)
Good. He’s been a hell of a lot more productive in relief than some higher salaried guys in the Cubs pen.
QuietMan 9 hours 22 min ago (view)
Tim Collins opted to stay in the organization afterall. Pitched for ICubs today.
Hagsag 12 hours 6 min ago (view)
Barnette that is.
Hagsag 12 hours 7 min ago (view)
Any guess who will be leaving when Kimbrel arrives? It’s got to be Brach unless they drop Barnett’s.
Eric S 12 hours 38 min ago (view)
Nice job by Strop - fastball 94 and slider looking good.
crunch 12 hours 38 min ago (view)
cubs win, brews win, STL plays tonight.
night game vs ATL tomorrow. STL+MIL off day.
btw, the next 3 games vs ATL will be wrigley night games.
Eric S 12 hours 54 min ago (view)
It’s about time the Mets craptastic bullpen showed up for this series
Eric S 12 hours 59 min ago (view)
El Mago with the three run shot to right field!!!
Nice job by Hamels - 7 innning quality start and kept the game close.
Back to back three hit games by JHey also encouraging
crunch 13 hours 3 min ago (view)
baez makes career #100 count. unf.
Eric S 14 hours 37 min ago (view)
Cubs doing a nice job of elevating Alonzo’s player of the week candidacy. Freddie Freeman having a week/month too.
Eric S 14 hours 48 min ago (view)
Who can forget Joe reaching for and pulling an imaginary beard from the mound to signal for Schlitter? It was all good until a 97 mph sinker was slammed over outfield wall. Good times.
Eric S 14 hours 50 min ago (view)
Seems to me the Cubs/Jedstein would lean to acquiring an impact outfield bat vs infielder, all things being equal. A healthy and productive Zobrist would be nice as well.
Eric S 14 hours 59 min ago (view)
Caratini‘s regression to the mean weekend continues. Sigh
Thankfully Hamels comes through with a two out rbi single
Arizona Phil 16 hours 34 min ago (view)
Busy day for ex-Cub pitchers: Mariners call-up Matt Carasiti (ST NRI released by Cubs earlier this month), A's call-up ex-Cub Brian Schlitter (hasn't pitched in MLB since 2015), and Marlins outright ex-Cub Dan Straily (acquired along with Addison Russell and Billy McKinney from OAK in the Samardzija/Hammel trade in 2014, and then traded to HOU with Luis Valbuena for Dexter Fowler in 2015).
Eric S 18 hours 16 min ago (view)
Righty reliever Tony Barnette activated and Rowan Wick optioned to Iowa. Barnette has been pitching well of late in AAA.