A fan favorite could be back in the fold next year for the Cubs.
Kawasaki, 35, played most of 2016 with the Iowa Cubs, where he hit .255/.352/.312 (82 wRC+). In 26 plate appearances with the big league team, he hit a whopping .333/.462/.429, though, so, I mean, what were you thinking, Cubs!?! Get Muni up!
In all seriousness, Kawasaki’s return would be a very welcome one for more than one reason. He provides excellent, versatile infield defense in a pinch, runs the bases well, and handles the bat well enough from the left side of the plate. On a minor league deal, he can be stashed at AAA Iowa for when a need develops, without taking up a 40-man roster spot until that time.
Kawasaki won’t carry an offense, to be sure, but he also wouldn’t crush you if leaned on as a big league bench option, or if, in case of emergency, he had to start for a few weeks.
Additionally, and perhaps most obviously, Kawasaki is loved in the clubhouse. Although he is from a country less represented in professional baseball here in the States, he has demonstrated an infectious way about him, connecting with his teammates and fans alike, regardless of any language or cultural barriers that may exist. That kind of positivity has a non-zero value, both at the big league level, and at AAA, where so many Cubs youngsters get exposure.
Presumably, Kawasaki’s deal, if it’s completed, would include an invite to big league Spring Training.