If you were waiting for the Cubs to replace Jonathan Herrera – a light-hitting, great-defending, versatile veteran utility man on a minor league deal for depth purposes – you can look no further:

If that name sounds familiar to you – or if you’re wondering why Blue Jays fans are crying today – I’ll get to that in a moment. Like Herrera was last year with the Cubs, Kawasaki is a really, really fun guy. But first, the baseball stuff.



Kawasaki, 34, has spent the last three seasons with the Blue Jays, seeing time at both AAA and in the big leagues each year. Although he’s not much with the stick – his wOBA never cracked .300 with the Blue Jays, nor his wRC+ cracked 80 – he can play all over, and, by all accounts, he’s excellent defensively. He runs the bases well, too, and has a great deal of big league/post-season experience.

In sum, on the baseball side of things, Kawasaki is a solid, unspectacular signing, and represents just about everything you realistically look for in this kind of a defense-first depth move. I dig it.

But on the non-baseball side is where things really get fun. Kawasaki, if you didn’t know, was something of a cult hero among Blue Jays fans, and for good reason.

I think this recent and fantastic post-ALDS victory interview encapsulates why Kawasaki was so beloved by fans and teammates:

There’s a sincerity there that you just can’t fake, and he clearly enjoys what he’s doing (in a way that’s completely magnetic). People just like the guy, and he likes to be with people. That can’t be easy for someone whose first language is not English.

For now, the expectation will be that Kawasaki will come to Spring Training, compete for a bench job, and then head to AAA Iowa as depth. Of course, that was the plan for Herrera, too, and he wound up sticking with the big league club the entire year. You just never know how the injury story will play out. While I don’t hope for any injuries that would make it necessary, the fan in me very much hopes we get to see Kawasaki spend some time with the big league club this year.



More video fun with Kawasaki …

He dances, a lot:

Kawasaki being Kawasaki:

He even does Lo Viste:

He’s a great interview, as you can see here and all along the recommended videos on the side. He’s clearly a very fun guy, who likes to enjoy himself with his teammates and keep things light, all while genuinely working hard to learn and practice English and continue playing baseball.

How can you not like this guy:

And one more, from when he really first made a name for himself, featuring cameos by former Cubs Mark DeRosa and Emilio Bonifacio:




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