Munenori Kawasaki Rumors

Blue Jays Re-Sign Munenori Kawasaki

The Blue Jays announced that they’ve re-signed popular infielder Munenori Kawasaki to a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training.

Kawasaki, a fan favorite due to his affable nature and quirky sense of humor, has batted .244/.327/.302 in 563 plate appearances for the Blue Jays over the past two seasons. The versatile 33-year-old is known more for his glove than his bat and is capable of handling second base, shortstop and third base.


Blue Jays Notes: D’Backs, Neshek, Gregerson

Here’s the latest from Toronto…

  • The Blue Jays asked the Diamondbacks about both left-hander Wade Miley and outfielder Mark Trumbo earlier this winter, Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun reports.  Arizona, in turn, asked for some of the Jays’ young pitching in return.  Interestingly, the Jays didn’t plan on keeping Trumbo, but rather flipping him to the Mariners for Michael Saunders, a player Toronto landed anyway by dealing J.A. Happ to Seattle.
  • Also from Elliott, the Jays have looked into signing free agent relievers Pat Neshek and Luke GregersonSportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi also notes that the Astros and Yankees are among the other clubs interested in Gregerson’s services.
  • The Blue Jays are one of three teams who have spoken to veteran reliever Kyle Farnsworth, Davidi reports.
  • Munenori Kawasaki has looked into options in Japan and may now be considering returning in North America on a minor league deal, according to Davidi.  The Blue Jays would seem to be natural candidates to bring Kawasaki back, though manager John Gibbons wasn’t sure what was going on between the team and the infielder.

Blue Jays Notes: Martin, Kawasaki, Phillies

The Blue Jays are in on several top free agents as the offseason kicks off.  They’ll meet with Pablo Sandoval‘s agent Gustavo Vasquez today, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.  Reps for Victor Martinez spoke to the Jays recently, and there’s reportedly a meeting on the books with Russell Martin‘s agent as well.  Further details on Canada’s team…

  • Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos preached flexibility yesterday.  According to Davidi, Anthopoulos said, “We’re going to try to take the best player available, and we’re not locked into one thing, like we need a defender at first base, we need a pure DH. It depends on what becomes available to us.”  Edwin Encarnacion can be deployed at first base or DH, while third base could be opened up by using Brett Lawrie at second.
  • Martin, a Canada native, turned down the Blue Jays before the 2010 season because the Yankees offered more playing time behind the plate, according to Davidi.  Davidi feels that of all the Blue Jays rumors, Martin may be the one with the most substance.
  • The Jays are looking at Anthony Gose and Kevin Pillar in center field next year, barring a trade.
  • Infielder Munenori Kawasaki is leaning toward a return to Japan, but Davidi says he might be swayed by a Major League contract.
  • The Jays called the Phillies about Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, and Antonio Bastardo, according to Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun.


Blue Jays Outright George Kottaras

The Blue Jays announced that they have outrighted catcher George Kottaras off the 40-man roster and officially announced the outrights of Munenori Kawasaki and Dan Johnson, both of which were made known earlier in the week.

Kottaras, 31, batted a strong .233/.351/.533 with three homers in 38 plate appearances between the Indians, Cardinals and Blue Jays this season. Two of those homers came as a member of the Indians in his first game of the season.

The journeyman catcher has always shown plus plate discipline and plus power but low batting averages, as evidenced by his .215/.326/.411 career batting line. Kottaras has struck out in 23.7 percent of his career plate appearances, but that number has jumped to 35.3 percent over the past two seasons (164 PA). Defensively speaking, he’s thrown out just 18 percent of opposing base-stealers in his career, and pitch-framing metrics haven’t been kind to him.

Kottaras and Johnson have both elected free agency, per the Blue Jays, while Kawasaki has yet to do so. Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star tweets that Kawasaki will likely do the same thing that he did last offseason: seek a Major League deal elsewhere but return to the Blue Jays as a minor league free agent if he is unable to find one.


Blue Jays Outright Munenori Kawasaki, Dan Johnson

The Blue Jays have outrighted infielder Munenori Kawasaki and first baseman Dan Johnson, according to the team’s official transactions page.

Kawasaki, 33, batted .258/.327/.296 in 274 plate appearances in his second season with the Blue Jays. The Japanese infielder’s outgoing nature and quirky sense of humor have made him popular with both fans and teammates, but he hasn’t hit much in either of his two seasons in the Majors. He does grade out as a solid defender at shortstop, and both Ultimate Zone Rating and Defensive Runs Saved gave positive reviews to a small sample of work at third base this season.

The 35-year-old Johnson saw some action with Toronto this season as a replacement for the injured Adam Lind. The AL East veteran (he’s also been with the Rays, Orioles and Yankees) batted .211/.333/.342 with a homer in 48 trips to the plate. Johnson posted yet another gaudy OBP total at Triple-A, slashing .232/.381/.434 with 18 homers in 459 PA. In parts of 11 seasons at the Triple-A level, the former seventh-round pick is a .281/.401/.509 hitter, so he should be able to find a home rather easily this winter if he wishes.


Blue Jays Designate Marcus Walden, Outright Jeremy Jeffress

The Blue Jays have issued a press release to announce a series of roster moves: Right-hander Marcus Walden has been designated for assignment in order to clear a 40-man roster spot for Munenori Kawasaki, who has been promoted to the Majors to take the 25-man roster spot of Maicer Izturis. Izturis, who is most likely out four to six months with a torn LCL, has been placed on the 15-day DL. Additionally, the club announced that right-hander Jeremy Jeffress, who was designated for assignment last week, has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Buffalo.

Walden, who turned 25 near the end of the 2013 season, began the year at Buffalo but pitched just four innings prior to today's news. The former ninth-round pick allowed six runs in those four frames but posted a strong 3.71 ERA in 162 1/3 innings at Double-A New Hampshire in 2013. Walden misses few bats but has solid command, as evidenced by career ratios of 5.4 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in his minor league career.

The 32-year-old Kawasaki appeared in 96 games for the Blue Jays last season, quickly winning over fans and teammates with his quirky personality and his sense of humor. On the field, he batted .229/.326/.308 with a homer and seven stolen bases while appearing at both middle infield positions.

Jeffress has seen MLB time in five seasons, but has never logged more than 15 1/3 innings in any one season. The former No. 16 overall pick (Brewers) has yet to harness his big arm, as his career 6.7 BB/9 tally in the bigs would indicate. He did put up outstanding results last year, as he yielded one earned run with a 12-to-5 K:BB ratio in 10 1/3 Major League innings in addition to registering a 1.39 mark in his 32 1/3 minor league innings (8.4 K/9 against 3.6 BB/9).


Blue Jays Re-Sign Munenori Kawasaki

The Blue Jays announced that they've re-signed infielder Munenori Kawasaki to a minor league contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training. Kawasaki is represented by Relativity Baseball (formerly known as SFX).

The 32-year-old Kawasaki batted .229/.326/.308 with a homer and seven stolen bases in 96 games (289 plate appearances) for the Blue Jays in 2013. He appeared at both second base and shortstop, providing Toronto manager John Gibbons with solid defense at each position. Kawaski's big personality made him a favorite both in the Blue Jays' clubhouse and with Toronto's fans.

A career .294/.345/.378 hitter in Nippon Professional Baseball, Kawasaki has batted at a .218/.306/.276 clip in 404 Major League plate appearances between the Mariners and Blue Jays since coming to the United States.


Blue Jays Notes: Catching, Arencibia, Kawasaki, Davis

Here's the latest on the Blue Jays, who look set for another busy offseason…

  • The Jays have made inquiries about such catchers as Carlos Ruiz, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and A.J. Pierzynski, Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi reports.  Davidi also suspects Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos has checked in on Brian McCann, to boot. 
  • The Jays were known to be looking to improve behind the plate this winter and current catcher J.P. Arencibia has drawn trade interest from other teams.  Davidi says there is some feeling that Arencibia has too much "accumulated baggage" in Toronto and might not reach his potential in a Blue Jay uniform.  Arencibia is projected to earn $2.8MM as a first-time arbitration eligible player this winter and the Jays would certainly prefer getting something back for him in a trade than simply non-tendering him.
  • Ervin Santana, Tim Hudson and Hiroki Kuroda have all received calls from the Blue Jays, Davidi reports, noting that Hudson and Kuroda probably don't have any mutual interest.  Hudson is being courted by over 10 teams while Kuroda seems to be set on either re-signing with the Yankees, returning to pitch in Japan or retiring.
  • Also from Davidi, Munenori Kawasaki could sign a new minor league deal with the Jays that would pay him more than the $600K base salary he earned last season.
  • In another piece from Davidi, Melky Cabrera is looking much healthier and fit after a tumor was surgically removed from his spine, Anthopoulos said.  Cabrera looks to be the Jays' everyday choice in left field, though obviously that could change if he suffers a setback in his rehabilitation.
  • Rajai Davis is likely to leave the Jays for a team that can offer him more playing time, Davidi reports.  The club's hope is that Anthony Gose or Moises Sierra can be a low-cost replacement for Davis as a backup outfielder.
  • Sierra is out of options and "is a prime candidate to be shopped," MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm writes.  Brad Lincoln could also be part of a trade package, as Chisholm breaks down possible scenarios for the Jays' nine out-of-options players. 

Blue Jays Exercise Janssen, Lind, DeRosa Options

6:50pm: The Jays have exercised their options on Lind and DeRosa, while declining their option on Kawasaki, Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi writes. Lind hit .288/.357/.497 while splitting his time between first base and DH in 2013. DeRosa hit .235/.326/.407 while playing first, second, third and DH. Kawasaki provided a feel-good moment or two for the Jays in a season in which they had very few, but he split his time between Toronto and Triple-A Buffalo and only hit .229/.326/.308 in the Majors. Davidi notes that the Jays could re-sign him to a minor-league deal.

5:04pm: The Blue Jays have exercised their $4MM option on closer Casey Janssen, Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish tweets. Janssen pitched 52 2/3 innings in 2013, posting a 2.56 ERA with 8.5 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9, so the decision was likely a relatively straightforward one. The option came as part of a two-year, $5.9MM deal signed prior to the 2012 season. Janssen made $3.9MM in 2013. He is eligible for free agency after the 2014 season.

The Jays have yet to announce decisions on options for first baseman / designated hitter Adam Lind ($7MM with a $2MM buyout), infielder Munenori Kawasaki ($1MM) and utilityman Mark DeRosa ($750K with a $25K buyout).


Quick Hits: Lee, Papelbon, Kawasaki, White Sox, Appel

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports runs down the names to watch as the trade deadline approaches in the latest edition of his 10 Degrees column, and the list is topped by Cliff Lee and Chase Utley. Giancarlo Stanton, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford, Justin Morneau, Jesse Crain, Oliver Perez and Matt Garza also appear on the list, along with Passan's rationale for shopping each. Here's more from around the league…

  • Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes that the price to acquire Lee from the Phillies would be "astronomical," and the same goes for Jonathan Papelbon. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told Heyman, "I never say never," but those two would be very difficult to replace. Utley and Michael Young are much more likely trade candidates, opines Heyman, given their impending free agency.
  • The Blue Jays' decision on what to do with Munenori Kawasaki following Jose Reyes' return from the disabled list grows more difficult each day, writes Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. Kawasaki's popularity among fans and teammates has soared. Mark Buehrle went as far as calling the Japanese infielder one of his favorite teammates of all-time. Kawasaki also has a .341 OBP and is hitting .270/.372/.486 over his past 15 games.
  • Both Adam Dunn and Jake Peavy recognize that roster changes are on the horizon for the White Sox if they can't turn things around at the last minute, writes Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago. Dunn added that outside of Chris Sale — whom he said the White Sox would need to receive an entire MLB team to part with — everyone on the team is probably "fair game."
  • Mark Appel could make his pro debut for Class A Tri-City in the first week of July, according to Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle. The current plan for Appel is for him to begin a throwing program in Kissimmee, Fla., as he currently hasn't thrown in about three weeks.