Although his on-field contributions to the 2016 Chicago Cubs were limited, Munenori Kawasaki’s clubhouse and fan-enjoyment impact last year were notable. We could debate just how much that matters, but I think most would agree it’s non-zero.
And now the Cubs have officially re-signed Kawasaki for 2017 to a minor league deal. He will presumably once again return to Spring Training, and will thereafter provide AAA depth in the infield should the need arise for a quality defender with can run the bases well.
For more on Kawasaki and why he’s awesome, see this post noting his likely re-signing, and follow the trail of links there.
Additionally, Matt Eddy reports at Baseball America that the Cubs have signed catcher Carlos Corporan and utility man Chris Dominguez to minor league deals.
Corporan, 33, established himself as an excellent back-up catcher with the Astros from 2011-14, but was not as successful with the Rangers in 2015, and then split his year at AAA between the Marlins and Rays in 2016. The Cubs have a significant need for upper-level back-up catcher depth, so Corporan is exactly the type of (realistically-available-on-a-minor-league-deal) defense-first catcher you’d like to see them add.
You may recall that the Cubs also signed Ali Solis, a similarly-situated back-up minor league catcher type, earlier this offseason to a minor league deal, so they’ve now got some defensively-inclined depth.
Willson Contreras figures to be the Cubs’ primary starter this year, backed up by Miguel Montero (who may start more frequently than a typical back-up). We’ll see if Kyle Schwarber is able to be the team’s emergency/third catcher this year, or if he’ll be exclusively limited to left field in his full season return from last year’s serious knee injury.
Dominguez, 30, was a long-time Giants farmhand who spent 2015 in the Reds’ organization (seeing 14 games of big league action in the process), and then played at AAA last year for Boston. I can’t claim to know too much offhand about Dominguez, who appears to be a serviceable upper-level utility man, and can serve as emergency depth for the Cubs in that regard.